Testing innovative solutions
ElaadNL tests the charging of all kinds of electric vehicles, from passenger cars to electric buses and trucks and the associated charging infrastructure. We conduct tests in the ElaadNL Testlab in Arnhem, a meeting place for new models and innovations in the field of charging electric vehicles and research into the interaction with the underlying power grid.
Producers of electric cars, buses, trucks and other forms of electric mobility and of all matching charging infrastructure and ICT communication services are welcome in our open test lab. Together we can improve products and services to enable a smooth transition to smart and sustainable charging of electric vehicles.
When testing in the ElaadNL Testlab, we perform six types of tests:
Can any vehicle charge smoothly at any charging point? Or are there certain models that still have problems with certain types of charging points? Elaad strives to have all public charging points represented on its charging plaza so that vehicle manufacturers with new or modified models can tour the Netherlands with us.
For example, we test whether adjustments are still necessary or whether all combinations run smoothly. And where necessary, we look for solutions together with manufacturers. For example, a software update is often sufficient. With all the new types of vehicles that are going electric, from buses to tractors and airplanes, and with the fact that developments in communication standards are underway, a very important fact.
Learn more about the importance of interoperability.
Charging electric vehicles can affect the voltage quality. If the conversion required to convert alternating current (from the grid) to direct current (for the batteries in the car) is not done properly, disturbances arise which can affect the mains voltage. Conversely, poor voltage quality can affect the charging of electric vehicles, because a disturbed voltage results in disturbed currents.
Therefore it’s important that the inverters do not generate too much disturbance, but are also immune to certain disturbances of the voltage. We test both aspects at Elaad’s Test Lab. In collaboration with various knowledge institutes, we also conduct the necessary studies here into the specific impact of charging EVs on the voltage quality and are thus working on new standards and better voltage quality.
We also test smart charging or smart charging at the Elaad Test Lab. The core of smart charging is that the car is plugged in, but charging is controlled. Charging can therefore be postponed, or stopped and then started again. Charging can also be done at an adjusted (lower or higher) speed because there is a lot or little supply of locally generated sustainable power, to respond to energy prices or to have a lot or little space on the power grid in your neighbourhood. Moreover, with the use of smart charging, more charging stations can be connected to the current power grid.
We test how charging stations, vehicles and smart energy systems at home deal with these types of control signals. Can they follow it well and quickly? Can the charging station or car easily start charging again after a period of non-charging? And how low can the charging speed (power) drop before the car stops charging? In many cases, after the test, a software adjustment can significantly improve performance in this area, should the test give rise to this. In addition, more and more manufacturers are working on enabling bi-directional charging. This creates the option of not only charging a vehicle, but also supplying electricity to the household or the power grid. This way you can use your vehicle, for example, to store solar energy from your panels during the day, and have it delivered back to devices in your home in the evening, such as a heat pump.
In the 2019 climate agreement, it was agreed to make smart charging the standard. In addition to technology, legislation and organization are also considered. Various projects in the Netherlands have laid the first foundations for smart charging, which will be scaled up nationally in the next few years. In addition, ElaadNL is the coordinator of a European project for further international scaling up of smart charging.
Charging infrastructure is usually connected. This applies to all public poles, but also to home charging points. For example, payment must be arranged via a back office system, or the software must be updated. The fact that the charging station is connected is very handy because you can also control charging.
But it also means that cybersecurity is crucial, you don’t want the charging of large numbers of electric vehicles to be hacked. Not only because this can be very annoying for the consumer, who, for example, cannot charge and therefore cannot drive, but also because all those electric vehicles together have a large capacity and if it can be steered incorrectly, the power grid can be seriously disrupted. At ElaadNL, we have drawn up requirements with ENCS (European Network for Cybersecurity) that public and private charging stations must meet in order to create a safe charging infrastructure. We test the application of this in the Test Lab.
Learn more about the importance of cyber security.
In the chain tests (end-to-end tests), we test the mutual coordination and communication between devices in the entire chain: electric vehicle – charging point – systems of charging station managers and charging service providers. Or possibly in combination with a smart energy system at home (home energy management system) – any other electricity consumers and suppliers within the local network such as heat pumps and solar panels – and the underlying power grid. How does this coordination take place and where do digital confusions arise, for example because existing standards and protocols are not exactly complied with? Or maybe the language still needs to be developed?
New standards offer more possibilities, for example, new standards make it possible to communicate more relevant information about smart charging between vehicles and systems, to authorize directly by simply plugging in (without cards / apps) and charging bi-directionally. In order to do all this safely, security standards must be properly set up, but access to the market must also be guaranteed for all market parties. Our idea is that if all devices in the smart charging ecosystem can communicate with each other, optimal coordination can be achieved.
To ensure that such a chain functions optimally, we test whether the communication through the chain runs smoothly (according to standards), whether the various systems actually allow communication with other systems and whether this exchanged information is used correctly. Optimal mutual communication is complex, but essential, so we test it in chain tests.
Just like in residential houses, public charging stations contain a meter box and a connection to the grid operator’s electricity network. Only a charging station differs from a house, the space in a charging station is of course much more limited. In order to guarantee the safety and reliability of the electricity network, ElaadNL has developed connection specifications together with the network operators.
This sets out the requirements of the grid operators, which public charging stations must meet before they can be connected to the electricity grid. Consider, for example, sufficient space so that the meter and fuses can be mounted and so that the technicians can work properly. In the ElaadNL Test Lab, the network operators inspect all new charging stations on the basis of the connection specifications. This does not only concern conventional charging stations, but also new applications such as a charging lantern. ElaadNL coordinates these inspections of the joint grid operators so that they apply directly to the whole of the Netherlands and the charging station can therefore be installed and connected in every municipality.
More about this can be found on the page about charging station inspections.
Would you like to have a vehicle, charging station or battery tested in the ElaadNL Test Lab or would you like to add a charging station to our test setup? Which can! Contact us using the form below and we will be happy to discuss the options.