Blockchain’s Role in BEV Infrastructure

The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) has launched a global standard for blockchain-based electric vehicle grid integration.

This standard that lays out a range of new technical design specifications relating to vehicle-t- grid Integration (V2G), tokenized carbon credits (TCC) and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications. It was created by its working group made up of Honda and General Motors with support from Accenture, CPChain, IBM, the IOTA Foundation, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), Politecnico di Torino, and R3.

The new standard is described as the automotive industry’s first global standard incorporating blockchain technology into a decentralized vehicle charging system. According to Tram Vo, founder and COO at MOBI: “The standard is a critical step towards the creation of a more sustainable and smarter energy future.”

“We’re seeing a strong uptick in the adoption and use of EVs to combat the effects of climate change,” she says. “Our EVGI standard outlines a two-way V2G and P2P communication system for the vehicle, charging system, and electric infrastructure to utilize the battery to reduce the load.  Blockchain allows privacy-preserving and secure sharing of data to optimize resources, balance supply and demand and pave the way to a carbon-neutral future.”

Silo thinking

A key feature of the standard is that it does not prescribe the use of any particular blockchain application or distributed ledger technology (DLT).  Instead, it seeks to ensure that pertinent data attributes and functionalities of each use case are available for organizations to utilize in creating their own applications.

As Griffin Haskins, head of partnerships at MOBI, explains: “The Standard is a joint effort between a number of OEMs, start-ups, utilities, and other organizations that can ultimately be broken down into two pieces: core services and logical schemas. Core services, like digital identity and ‘permissioning’ systems, are key for the development of applications that handle electric vehicles, charging sessions and carbon credits.  In other words, these lay out the functionalities, and are intended to accomplish functional interoperability between two EVGI-compliant applications. The logical schemas lay out all of the pertinent data attributes, along with their data structures, in order for devices to pass data to each other relating to charging sessions, battery usage, part failure and so on.”

The intention is that these schemes are will help developers to accomplish data interoperability in such a way that that two EVGI-compliant applications can seamlessly pass data between each other. Without this data or functional interoperability, Haskins observes that organizations are stuck building systems in their own siloes. “The EVGI standard is meant to break down those siloes for organizations in the EV and grid space,” he says.

In order to better understand the main themes of the EVGI standard, Haskins urges users and potential users to consider an application that measures and records EV charging session data. Assuming this application is EVGI-compliant, he says it could easily and seamlessly expose its data to another EVGI-compliant application – for example, one that records data for claiming carbon credits.

“Before, all of that data would have to be manually transferred and validated.  With the EVGI standard, all of that manual overhead can be removed.  This is one particular example that is meant to explain the overall value of the standard: when organizations across the EV space, each with their own focus area and respective competitive advantages, all build their systems in this interoperable manner, enormous value can be created within that collaborative environment,” he adds.

Benefits and next steps

For Haskins, the key benefits accruing from the new standard lie in the MOBI community itself.  In particular, he highlights the fact that the standard provides and prescribes a rich variety of tools and systems for use in creating blockchain applications for electric vehicles and expects widespread adoption by the MOBI community.  Moving forward, he is also confident that the standard will continue to provide value on a consistent basis because of the MOBI community that is standing behind it.  Ultimately, he believes that consortium organizations like MOBI are critical for this form of work, especially in the blockchain space.

“Without standards, or a community to plug into, lots of these blockchain applications can’t reach the scale that they need to provide value,” he says. In terms of next steps, Haskins reveals that the working group is currently engaged in the process of receiving and reviewing feedback from members of the MOBI community on the standard. “Once integrated, the working group will begin supporting the development of applications using the EVGI standard, as well as considering the possibility of beginning work on a second standard,” he adds.

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