Electric vehicles are quickly gaining ground, but where does the industry stand, and what’s the infrastructure surrounding the industry like?

Depending on the situation, it may take one to a couple of hours to charge an electric vehicle, and a lot of volts to speed up the process. Some charging sessions are free, some cost money for the power charged, and others cost per hour.

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An Open Charge Point Protocol for communication between charging stations and a central management networks, is currently available, much like our mobile phone networks. This concept began in the Netherlands and at ICU we are proud to say we were part of this movement form the very beginning in 2009. The Open Charge Point Protocol is now being adopted worldwide. The open standard could stimulate innovation and be more economically beneficial in the long-term.

A visit from across the ocean

A few months ago a few fellow natives from South America visited ICU headquarters, to gain more knowledge about the EV world and how it is being adapted in the Netherlands. And, more importantly, how they can introduce the whole concept in their own country, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay.

What we have accomplished in the Netherlands while introducing the whole concept of EV driving and stimulating sustainability, is well, not a piece of cake. Lots of thought, hard work and challenges have been tackled.  ICU Charging Equipment was established in 2008 for a particular reason, to be able to regulate electricity and supply grid reliability. This challenge was one our engineers gladly took on. Being a part of Alfen – a supplier of products and services for the distribution of electric energy for more than 75 years – the specialist when talking about fully assembled, compact and accessible transformer stations, the knowledge was there, the will and the drive. We created the necessary hardware and software to deliver the products for the infrastructure surrounding the industry.

And now, South America, was asking: How?

I was particularly impressed they were already making the needed steps in infrastructure and making the needed preparations, electric driving was coming and they needed to be ready.

A few highlights

Public charging, how is that possible?

Public charging in the Netherlands is taken on as a whole project with various organizations working together. Charging stations are placed in public parking lots, along roadsides, underground garages, gyms, hospitals, supermarkets – you name it. Charging stations are ‘growing like mushrooms’ – to quote the Dutch.

How is the safety regulated? What if someone opens the charging station?

Our charging stations are built in a such a manner that they cannot be taken apart. If you crash into one, our charging stations have built-in tilt sensors so they will automatically shut off for safety reasons and get a notification right away. In a nut shell, our solid hardware is built for safety and robustness.

Can someone get electrocuted?

No, you cannot open the charging station so you will not be exposed to the internal components or wiring.  And if someone still tries? It’s not possible and the charging station remains safe.

Then came the reaction that threw me off, and reminded me that every country has its own new set of challenges. In the most Spanish-jokingly way possible, a listener from Mexico replied:

Well, that will have to be different in our country. If we will have public charging stations and make these available to the public, then, if someone tries to open it, they should feel a little bit of a shock, to remind them to leave the charging stations alone. I can imagine the components are pretty expensive. Right?

Well, the most expensive components, off the top of my head are the Residual Circuit Breakers, Type B, which can cost up to 300 euros. That would have to be quite a shock then…

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