10 June 2023

The birth and growth of OCPP: Revolutionising e-mobility with Alfen’s EV charging expertise

Author: Lambert Mühlenberg 

Hi, fellow EV enthusiasts! As Alfen celebrates 15 years of electric vehicle (EV) charging innovation, I want to take you on a journey through the fascinating world of the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) and shed light on the role Alfen played in its development. This protocol - with Dutch heritage - has set the standard for communications between EV charging stations and central systems worldwide, fueling the acceleration of mobility electrification and mass EV adoption. 

First the basics: OCPP is short for Open Charge Point Protocol. With its inception rooted in the Netherlands, our story begins in 2009 when Elaad Foundation, the Dutch knowledge and innovation center for smart charging infrastructure, established a project group to create a communications protocol based on open standards. Thus, OCPP was born. It was initially nurtured in-house before being transferred to the Open Charge Alliance (OCA), a collaborative effort among companies in the EV  industry.

Alfen, a renowned player in the field of energy solutions, played a key role in developing OCPP right from the start. In 2008, during a proof of concept and pilot project with Enexis, Alfen (along with Logica, now CGI), earned the opportunity to demonstrate our prowess. Alfen and Logica developed a proprietary protocol, showcasing the early groundwork for EV charging solutions. This pilot project was subsequently transferred to Elaad, who expressed a strong desire for an open protocol based on open standards.

Ensuring interoperability between manufacturers

The philosophy behind OCPP was simple: to ensure interoperability between different EV charging station manufacturers and back-office service providers to eliminate vendor lock-in and facilitate seamless technical compatibility. This approach empowers customers with the freedom to choose their preferred charging stations and back-office systems, stimulating electrification of mobility on a larger scale.

Developing the OCPP protocol posed significant challenges that provided valuable learning opportunities along the way. For example, OCPP initially leveraged the transmission protocol known as SOAP, however it became apparent that it was limiting due to network complexities like firewalls. 

Alfen was one of the companies that spearheaded the evolution by transitioning to JSON/Websockets with OCPP version 1.6, significantly reducing networking complexity and response times, thereby enhancing the user experience. OCPP’s innovation and adaptability allowed it to stay in sync with the evolving needs of EV charging infrastructure. A key feature introduced in OCPP 1.6 was ‘smart charging’ - the ability to control charging based on available power.

Promoting innovation

Since its establishment, the standardised communications facilitated by OCPP has been instrumental in driving growth in the EV industry. By streamlining communications between charging stations and back-office systems, OCPP empowers manufacturers, customers and end-users to benefit from cost-effective solutions. The protocol lowers the barrier to entry for charging station manufacturers and service providers, encouraging competition and promoting innovation.

As the EV industry continues to evolve, OCPP remains at the forefront, expanding its capabilities and adapting to emerging trends. It has become a global de facto standard, embraced by numerous countries, including the United States and South Korea, where its adoption is encouraged and/or mandated. With ongoing developments and innovations in e-mobility, OCPP will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of electric transportation.

Thanks to OCPP and the efforts of pioneers like Alfen – who celebrates 15 years of innovation in the EV charging industry in 2023 – the electrification of mobility has reached new heights. This open protocol has transformed the charging infrastructure landscape, facilitating seamless communications and interoperability. 

Essential pillar of the electric revolution

As we look toward a greener future, OCPP will undoubtedly remain an essential pillar of the electric revolution, empowering individuals and businesses to embrace the power of cleaner transportation.

Stay charged and keep driving towards a sustainable future. 


Charging the Future: Alfen's 15-Year Journey in EV Charging Milestones

From humble beginnings to becoming a key player, we'll uncover the milestones that have shaped our adventure in powering electric vehicles. Discover our innovative solutions, technological breakthroughs, and impactful contributions that have made us a driving force in the sustainable transportation revolution.