ELMO is Estonia’s electromobility programme. It promotes the use of electric cars and emission-free personal transportation in order to create a better city environment, independence from fossil fuels and increased energy efficiency. One of ELMO’s goals was to cover Estonia with electric vehicle (EV) quick-chargers to help increase the operational range of these vehicles. This project was financed by the government of Estonia selling some of its CO2 quota to the Mitsubishi Corporation.
The ELMO charging infrastructure project was launched in March 2011. It aimed to establish a countrywide network of quick chargers (QC) and set up a single operator with responsibility for all the charging stations. Importantly, consumers had to be able to take advantage of the same payment solution and technical support across the country.
Responsibilities for the project were divided between four organisations:
This consortium was committed to supporting the network for 5 years.
Planning the charging network took about a year before the first stages of building were started.
NOW! Innovations started work on the project in February 2012. The installation of quick chargers followed in the summer of that year.
As billing and payment provider, NOW! Innovations had the following responsibilities:
NOW! Innovations needed to map the network and categorise the QC assets by regions, cities, districts, streets and individual sites. It was also necessary to provide a solution for managing single or multi-connector chargers and to update customers with the status of these chargers.
In order to provide detailed analysis and customer-related processes, NOW! Innovations set up customer profiles that enabled a wide range of business rules. As part of this procedure, hierarchical accounts with multiple authorisation tools were introduced.
Business rules based on customer profiles, locations, timeslots etc. were set up by NOW! Innovations, along with flexible tariffs based on time, energy, charging sessions and ﬂat fees. The NOW! Innovations platform allows users to choose between pre‑paid, post‑paid or pay-as-you-go accounts. As well as supporting credit and debit card payments the Platform can also handle mobile invoicing, direct bank transfers and a number of other channels. In case of ELMO, post-paid solution was chosen.
NOW! Innovations was required to provide multiple service interfaces: mobile phone, web portal and RFID cards. It also needed to gather business intelligence using more than a dozen reporting tools and connect the charging network with other services using open standard protocols (e.g. navigational systems can obtain information about QCs through the KML file format).
The network with 165 CHAdeMO-standard quick chargers was opened officially in February 2013. It was the first of its kind in the world and is still the largest quick charging network in Europe. Each town in Estonia, as well as larger villages, has its own quick charger; the stations are installed along major roads at a maximum distance of 40 to 60 km.
“What makes the Estonian fast charging network unique is the fact that it uses a uniform payment solution and you can either use an authorisation card or your mobile phone for making payments. We believe that a nationwide grid of quick chargers encourages growth of the number of EV users, since the drivers no longer need to worry about a somewhat shorter driving range of their electric vehicles.”
- Jarmo Tuisk, Director, Electric Mobility Solutions at NOW! Innovations