October 31st 2017

How ElaadNL built a PoC Charge Station running fully on IOTA, and IOTA only

At ElaadNL we are researching and innovating new technologies. We are currently researching the possibilities of Smart Charging in the power grid. We see that DLTs (Distributed Ledger Technologies) can have real impact on the information flow and security of the grid, because of the possibilities of decentral balancing. Especially in e-mobility we will see these decentralized developments come together before these aspects influence the other parts of the electricity system, providing a perfect test-base for the new functionalities and the technical enablers (more information about DLTs like blockchain and the Tangle can be found here: What are the possibilities for DLTs like Blockchain, Tangle and other related technologies in the electric mobility infrastructure?). We jump in and start building. That’s what we do at ElaadNL: turn theory into practice.

The same happened with the start of the IOTA Charge Station. We see the potential of DLTs, and we thought: “Could we integrate this into a charge station? Can we use this technology to create a better integrated system, as with smart grids, and get as much renewables into the system as possible?”.

Since DLTs allow for micro transactions, and immutable storage of data. This can be a very important step into creating more machine to machine (M2M) payments and communication within the smart grid, which allows to a better and more optimized use of the grid.

The electric mobility infrastructure can benefit from these new technologies. In electric mobility we have to deal with (but are not limited to) the grid, the energy supplier and payments for the energy consumed by the customer, all according to predefined processes, information exchange interfaces and connected (mostly) to a central hub.

We need scalable solutions, because it is predicted that in the near future a lot of electric cars will hit the streets, and they all need to be charged. This requires a lot of communication between different devices, and might even require to do a lot of micro transactions between electric cars itself. This rapid growth will probably also stress the electricity grid, because we will add a lot more simultaneous demand to it. At ElaadNL we’re looking at how to balance the demand and supply in such a way that we use the grid as efficiently as possible, use as much sustainable energy as possible when it’s available, and still satisfy the customer. The use of DLTs can be one of the solutions to bring this all together.

The charge station currently includes the following functionalities:

  • kWh-based charging, thus only paying for the amount of energy you exactly use. If you disconnect your car before you ran out of tokens? You’ll be reimbursed the amount you didn’t use!
  • IOTA Charging App – since we wanted to communicate with the end user and make the experience more user friendly we developed our own app
  • kWh-measurement storage, storing measurement data of the kWh-meter in the Tangle as an immutable storage of the kWh energy consumption over time (like the Odometer in a car).

The use of Distributed Ledger Technologies allows us to integrate this all within the system. Payments, communication with the customer and storing the measurement values. This can all be done securely and without the cost of any fees. Next versions will allow to be able to change the charging current according to the needs of the different actors in the system. This can also be send via IOTA / The Tangle.

The charge station will be built into a real casing and become part of the ElaadNL charge stations on the ElaadNL premises. This means that people can charge their electric cars at the ElaadNL premises using IOTA tokens.

If you want more in-depth information about the charge station, you can read the full blog post on Medium by Harm van den Brink.