Electric cars at the expense of massive data sharing (which does not exist)

We have been hoping for years for the massive proliferation of smart meters to turn the consumer into a player in the energy market so that he can extract his electricity at the best times for him (price) and for the electrical system (in case of production surplus) or vise versa. We are far from it when we already imagine that electric car batteries on their own solve the imbalances between renewable energy supply and demand thanks to their enormous storage potential.

This will not happen without massive exchanges of data (which do not exist today): battery condition, recharge level, impending use of the vehicle or not (can the stored energy be re-injected into the network?), Immediate state of electricity system (imbalance between production and consumption, local congestion, etc.). We are far beyond the simple smart meter. The issue of sharing energy data (from the point of charge or even from the car itself) remains unexplored. What are the intellectual property rights or who owns this data? Which business case should market participants and owners share? It is these issues that CERRE, the European Center for Regulation, will examine in a White Paper outlining them.

Gas pumps, it’s easy

GDPR has inadvertently given (personal) data a sanctuary to the point that the idea of ​​sharing data as a common good seems out of place. The complexity of the data and the many possible uses when it comes to charging (points) is another challenge. With petrol pumps it is easy: Energy is always available because it is stored locally in abundance thanks to the capacity of the tanks. The user of the electric vehicle, on the other hand, must be able to pump the energy over the water (so to speak) from the grid, which does not offer distributed storage capacity at an affordable price. And that’s not all: the instantaneous pumping capacity allowed by the network (the available electric current) is inherently limited. The offers of pumping capacity will have to vary according to the needs of the users and the costs that the latter are willing to pay. If the charging stations in the home or in a business are for exclusive use, they on the street must offer their service to everyone, which is a completely different business model. And to see the actors multiply. If the owner of the terminal open to the public is most often the operator of this terminal, he will have to make it interoperable for other charging service providers.

The delivery of its services will most often be disconnected from the physical flows of electricity, which remains the responsibility of energy suppliers. Real-time balancing of these flows must also be ensured, a role assigned to the balancer. Finally, it will be necessary to be able to take advantage of the flexibility offered by car batteries for the benefit of the overall electrical system, and it is the role of flexibility service providers to act on the signals transmitted in the control area, but also in accordance with local restrictions in the distribution network. . These different roles are sometimes exclusive (like a network management monopoly) sometimes cumulative, but the requirements for interoperability across Europe will at least require an ecosystem that allows all the (massive) exchange of information required. We are thinking here of telecom operators, data networks, developers for monitoring systems or for mobile audio applications that need to control or activate charging.

Collection of charging points

Interoperability between charging points will be crucial, CERRE rightly insists, but it is not certain that their operators want to assemble their networks. It is a growing company with growing volumes that everyone wants the largest share of before they share. This understandable “any for themselves” “entrepreneurial” approach is at odds with what is at stake: electrifying transportation as quickly as possible.

The European Union (EU), as CERRE reminds us, sets up multi-level data sharing schemes between industries or by industry. And to quote RGPD, which already includes a right to transfer your personal data to another provider (of the same service). There is the PSD2 Directive, which gives third parties access to data from a customer who has given their consent. There is a regulation on the free exchange of non-personal data which encourages codes of conduct for the sharing of this data. There is the directive open data and law on data management as well digital marketing act and the future data law. Sometimes these are obligations to share data on a voluntary basis with incentives. Sometimes again, these new rights to the data are rights that can be asymmetric. But all are technically based on the intensive use of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) as universal gateways for the benefit of data to leave one environment and go to another. With the APIs, the Commission wants to open up interoperable data universes in the field of mobility and energy, where all actors, companies, civil society, individuals, start-ups can compete (in imagination) and collaborate to create new products and services. APIs will undoubtedly become more and more standardized, because leaving them to the players’ free choice, so as not to harm innovation, has led to too much technical fragmentation.

Right to access data at the competitor

A simple right to bring your data as provided in the GDPR is useless. Why change provider if the person you are with offers all the services you need and also hosts your entire network? As CERRE recalls, the Commission therefore came up with the idea of ​​accessing data in situ, as provided for in the PSD2 Directive, which gives a third party access to a customer’s account data in his bank. It is as if a future competitor to Facebook, who wanted the application that the latter does not have, offered its customers to subscribe to it without giving up Facebook.

In any case, data sharing in energy is in its infancy: A 2017 regulation obliges network operators to exchange data for system security. The Electricity Directive requires Member States to guarantee the deployment of interoperable smart meters. The revision of the REDII Directive will impose measures to access real-time battery data. Car manufacturers must provide data in the vehicle regarding the health of the battery, state of charge, capacity, position of the vehicle to its owners, users or third parties acting on their behalf (market participants for electricity). Non-public charging points must also allow two-way smart charging. Even the buildings will be taken into use. As part of the development of new services to make buildings smart, through the EPDB Directive, the data created in them must be made available to third parties. This also includes energy data, including those from e-mobility points.

Here we are at a crossroads: the massive proliferation of electric cars is a major solution to the energy transition, but the data, the tendons of war here too, need a strong framework. CERRE is right to investigate.


(1) For more information: Energy Data Sharing: The Case of EV Smart Charging, CERRE, June 2022