Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have used blockchain technology to improve trust in electric vehicle (EV) charging systems, reported academic publication portal EurekAlert on Aug. 14. This development could increase uptake and expand the overall charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
New ventures have no established trust relationships
In general, an EV charging service provider will look for property owners to partner with and install charging points. Owners of electric vehicles can then use these for a fee, which is shared between the equipment supplier and the property owner.
The supplier runs the equipment, so the property owner must trust it to compensate fairly for electricity used. Equally, the EV owner must trust that they are not being overcharged for the service.
This is exacerbated by the fact that it is a very youong industry, with no established structure of trust. An open blockchain platform will let all parties access the data to see if it has been tampered with.
The added benefit of blockchain
The researchers established three steps to incorporating blockchain into the system to reduce the reliance on trust.
First is to identify the involved parties and what (if any) trust issues there may be. Second is to design a minimal blockchain solution to mitigate these trust issues. The blockchain should closely mimic any parts of the legacy system, which need to be replaced. Dependencies can therefore continue to work with minimal modification.
Stage three is a gradual migration from a legacy/blockchain hybrid into a truly decentralized business model.
Researcher and PhD student, Christian Gorenflo, said:
“Mitigating trust issues in EV charging could result in people who have charging stations and even those who just have an outdoor outlet being much more willing to team up with an EV charging service provider resulting in much better coverage of charging stations.”
Last year, a Singapore-based startup launched a fleet of blockchain-enabled electric vehicles which mined cryptocurrency while you drive.