The most important terms in the field of charging infrastructure are explained here.
BNetzA – Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency)
The Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railways, or Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) for short, is a German federal authority in the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of the Economy. As the highest German regulatory authority, its tasks consist of maintaining and promoting competition in so-called network markets, which also include the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Since March 2016, all public charging points must be registered with the BNetzA.
CPO – Charge Point Operator
The CPO is the charging station operator who is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the charging station. However, the CPO does not necessarily need to be the owner of the charging station.
EMP – E-Mobility-Provider (MSP, EMSP)
The EMP is the provider of the power enabling mobility (sometimes also MSP – Mobility Service Provider or EMSP – E-Mobility Service Provider) that enables its customers to charge their electric vehicles at specific charging stations at contractually agreed rates. The number of charging stations that the EMP can offer its customers will depend on how many charging stations it has negotiated access for with their CPOs in exchange for usage fees. A company can also be both in one – EMP and CPO. Each customer of the EMP receives a customer card (also called a charging card or fuel card) and/or access to a charging app. Using the charging card or app, EMP customers can identify themselves at the charging stations that are included in their plan, thus enabling charging at the charging station and paying according to their agreed tariff.
Similar to roaming in mobile telephony, e-roaming in charging infrastructure allows users to charge at charging stations of different CPOs with the charging card or the app of their EMP without having to sign a contract with each CPO. The term is not firmly defined and is sometimes used with different meanings.
A charging point is a facility that is suitable and intended for charging electric vehicles and at which only one electric vehicle can be charged at a time (§ 3 no. 6 LSV (Charging Point Ordinance)).
- Standard charging point
A standard charging point is a charging point at which electricity with a capacity of 3.7 to 22 kilowatts can be supplied to an electric vehicle (cf. § 3 no. 7 LSV).
- Fast charging point
A fast charging point is a charging point with a maximum charging power of over 22 kW (cf. § 3 no. 8 LSV).
Charging station (often also “charging column”)
A charging station is a charging facility for electric vehicles that can consist of one or more charging points. As these are often in the form of a column, they are commonly also referred to as charging columns. In addition to classic charging stations, there are also so-called wallboxes. These are wall charging devices that are more compact than charging columns and can contain one or sometimes two charging points.
Smart Meter Gateway
As the central communication unit of an intelligent metering system, a Smart Meter Gateway (SMGW) collates the consumption data from the networked electricity meters, where it is stored and forwarded. Integrated into the electrical system, an SMGW can communicate with controllable consumption devices (e.g. heat pumps for building heating, wallboxes, etc.) or with energy generation systems (e.g. PV systems) in the so-called home area network (HAN). The SMGW is also able to communicate with third parties, for example the distribution grid operator. In this way, control signals can be transmitted when needed and controllable consumers can have their power consumption reduced or increased in order to keep the power grid stable. The special feature is that the communication of the SMGW meets the highest security requirements and communicates in an encrypted format.
Plug & Charge
Plug & Charge is a function of charging stations that allows charging processes to be started or stopped by connecting or disconnecting the charging cable. This process is regulated by ISO standard 15118, which eliminates the need for a charging card.
Plug, plug type
- Typ 2
An EU-wide standard plug type that allows charging with alternating current (AC) up to 22 kW.
- CCS/Combo 2
EU-wide standard plug type that also enables charging above 22 kW power with direct current (DC). The Combo 2 plug consists of the Type 2 plug (in the upper part), which has been supplemented by 2 contacts for transmitting direct current. The direct current with outputs of up to 350 kW (as at today) is transmitted via the 2 pins located in the lower section.
Another connector type that is declining in relevance in Europe. It is used for fast charging or DC charging, especially for charging Asian vehicles.
V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) / Bidirectional Charging
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is the use of battery storage of an electric vehicle for the purpose of off-loading electricity. It represents the principle of two-way energy flow (bidirectional), in that the energy is transferred from the electricity grid to the vehicle battery and can also be fed back into the grid from the battery. This is done via a bidirectional charging station. In this way, electric vehicle fleets can serve as energy storage units. Explicitly, the battery of the electric vehicle stores surplus energy from renewable sources, so the battery acts as a temporary storage of electrical energy. This allows the fluctuating yields from solar and wind energy to be cushioned and, at the same time, the power grid is kept in balance. In this way, electric cars contribute to grid stability and cover peak loads.
A wallbox (less commonly known as a wall charging station) is a charging device for electric vehicles. It is usually more compact than a charging column and is permanently mounted on a wall or pillar, for example at private residences. A wallbox for charging with alternating current typically has a Type 2 socket or a permanently attached cable and, in addition to controlling the charging, usually also contains options for restricting access (key switch, RFID card reader), protection technology (FI circuit breaker) or energy meters. Wallboxes for charging with direct current are less common. These are considerably more expensive than AC charging systems due to the built-in rectifiers.