Innogy to set up European charging network

February 24, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The charging of electric vehicles is one of the most important obstacles for the acceptance of electromobility. Car owners are confronted with an extremely fragmented charging landscape with proprietary payment solutions. Electric energy provider Innogy in Essen, Germany, is to set up a pan-European charging network allowing roaming for users.

Innogy, a spin-off from German energy supplier RWE, plans to use the blockchain distributed database as the technological platform for payments related to battery charging. The protocol is said to be ideal for the transaction of small amounts of money and, likewise, small and varying amounts of energy. It is particularly suited for decentralized networks with many participants.

Innogy plans to roll out its blockchain-based e-car charging network as early as spring but to establish its solution across Europe, the company is currently in negotiations with large European energy providers in France, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Finland. This would compete with a similar network being set up by a collaboration of BMW, VW, Ford and Daimler basedon the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard

Blockchain would enable secure identification of vehicles and charging columns, and it would be the basis to automate its operation. Charging and subsequent payment could be based on digitally-encoded “smart contracts”.

The solution proposed by Innogy however won’t identify neither vehicles nor charging points automatically in its first configuration level. Instead, the users must select the charging point manually from a smartphone app. For the next level, the proposal provides for an electronic wallet (eWallet) integrated into the cars. This eWallet is currently under development in a cooperation between Innogy and automotive Supplier ZF Friedrichshafen. Field tests are scheduled to start in the second half of the year.

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