ESB readies IT systems for electronic car charging

28 Feb 2011

The ESB is putting in place a key part of the IT systems to support the national rollout of on-street charging posts for electric vehicles (EVs).

The energy company is seeking expressions of interest for a single charge point payments and tariffing system (CPPS) to support a pre-pay model that will allow people to charge their e-cars at any of the on-street charging posts that are currently being installed around Ireland.

All licensed energy suppliers will have access to this system and customers will be able to choose the supplier offering the lowest tariff for energy at the time that they anticipate the need for on-street charging.

The CPPS will allow EV users to register securely for a range of services, including charging their cars, checking their account balance, topping up their credit, looking at the various prices on offer and choosing a supplier. It’s also envisaged the system will allow consumers to change supplier at any time if a more attractive price is available or if their pattern of charging changes.

One access card

According to a tender document issued last week, a single access card based on high frequency RFID will be used nationally for access and authentication, although it won’t function as an electronic purse. Instead, account balance will be managed centrally and adjusted after each charge point event. Last year, the ESB launched its electric cars website to begin the process of raising awareness of electrically powered vehicles, although a recent report by Accenture highlighted several challenges facing this mode of transport. 

The document also says the CPPS will be capable of reading quarter-hourly energy feeds (with associated customer RFID data), identifying the customer and thus their current supplier of choice. It will then calculate the total value of the charge to be debited to the customer’s account based on that supplier’s tariff. It will also provide access to a secure payments channel to credit the supplier with the calculated value of energy supplied.

Charging posts are being supplied by several manufacturers, each with their own in-built charge point control systems. Separate to the tender, ESB says it plans to implement a single charge point management system (CPMS) to monitor, control and manage the national charge point infrastructure and which will have the ability to interface with the different charge point control systems.

The ESB says it is open to running the CPPS either as software to be hosted on its own IT systems, or as a managed service. The contract with the winning bidder is set to run for four years and the deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 23 March.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic