New Delhi: Arjun Ray, a resident of Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh needs to buy a new scooter for his daily commute to work in Delhi which is 30 kilometres (km) away from his house. Being an ardent supporter of environmental causes, he wants to opt for a less polluting electric two-wheeler. But he has not been able to make up his mind yet about the options available to him. “I want to buy an electric scooter but I do not feel confident enough to get one. What if during my commute, it just stops and what if I am at a place where a charging station is nowhere to be found? I have seen only a few electric vehicles charging stations till now and that too in some public offices in Delhi and absolutely none in Ghaziabad. This makes me uncertain about buying an e-scooter,” says Arjun.

Arjun’s dilemma about buying a new Electric Vehicle (EV), actually is a known phenomenon and is officially called ‘range anxiety’. According to Sohinder Gill, CEO of Hero Electric and Director General of Society for Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), it is a normal reaction and many first time buyers of EV suffer from range anxiety. It is also one of the biggest reasons why EVs have not become popular yet. Mr. Gill says that robust charging infrastructure is crucial for buyers to loose ‘range anxiety’ and to opt for electric vehicles. He says,

When consumers know that they will be able to find a charger nearby at any point they need to charge their vehicles, their confidence in the technology will increase which would result in an increase in the sale of EVs. So, building a strong charging infrastructure is the key.

Also Read: Budget 2019: Electric Vehicle Industry Cheers As E-Mobility Makes It To Government’s Priority List

Current Scenario Of Charging Infrastructure In India

According to Narasimhan Santhanam, Director of Energy Alternatives India (EAI), a Chennai based research firm, electrification of mobility is still in nascent stages in India but significant growth is expected over the next 5 years. According to an estimate of EAI, by mid-2018, India had about 400 slow charging stations and 150 fast charging stations. However, as per an estimate by the Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises (MoHIPE), in the cities with population more than four million like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Lucknow, and others, one public charging station per three km would be required for achieving the electric vehicle (EV) mission of 2030.

The government has recently started making efforts to install more charging stations in major cities. It aims to install 2700 charging stations across India in the next three years. As the number of charging stations has started increasing, people have started noticing the efforts towards building a robust charging infrastructure.

To take these efforts further, Ministry of Power (MoP) and MoHIPE have come together to set up the required charging infrastructure under a scheme to boost electric mobility called Faster Adoption and Manufacture of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME). Under the recently launched second phase of FAME or FAME II, which was implemented from April 1, 2019, apart from setting up 2700 charging stations by 2024, the ministries will be installing EV charging stations on each side of major highways after every 25 Km. Along with this, installing charging stations have been made mandatory at residential and other buildings also by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and at least 20 per cent of the total vehicles parking capacity of these buildings will be reserved for EVs.

To build an ecosystem for EVs, the state-run Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), which has been tasked by the centre to boost electric mobility in country, has floated a tender for 4,500 chargers for installating in Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) last year, to cater to 10,000 e-cars being procured for government officials in the coming few years. Along with this, many installations are taking place in the country at a pilot level, offering free charging services to consumers.

EESL will also be installing 84 fast charging stations at some locations in New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) by the end of March, where the EV users will be allowed to top up their vehicle’s batteries in 15 minutes for Rs. 30. As many as 25 installations have already been completed, while the others are still under the process. Along with the Delhi government will be installing 131 charging stations in the capital over the next three months in collaboration with the MoP.

As per the industry, till last year, there was confusion about the type of business models to choose for building charging infrastructure for EVs because it was not clear if the batteries of EVs would mean distribution of electricity, like fuel at pumps, which would need a separate license under the Electricity Act of 2003, or would there be a metering system and the electricity would be taken from the local DISCOMS (electricity distribution companies).

Also Read: Industry Welcomes The Much Awaited FAME II, Says It Has Fast Tracked Adoption Of Electric Vehicles

However, in December 2018, the MoP ascertained that setting up of EV charging stations will not require any specific licenses under the Electricity Act and can be set up by anybody and at any place where the required power capacity is available. This is because according to the MoP, the charging of the battery of an electric vehicle by a charging station involves providing a service and not the transmission, distribution or trading of electricity. This landmark decision of the government has given a boost to the EV sector, said a spokesperson of SMEV. He further added,

This provision of non-requirement of license is expected to bring in public undertakings, private players, and DISCOMS to compete with each other to capture the opportunity.

According to SMEV, battery swapping has also emerged as a feasible solution for public transportation system including e-buses and e-rickshaws as the driver just need to exchange the dried out detachable battery with a fully charged one without having to wait for hours to charge the vehicles and lose passengers.

Sun Mobility, founded by Chetan Maini who created India’s first electric car Reva, has set up battery swapping shops in Bengaluru and plans to set up 100 such shops across the country by the end of Financial Year 2019-2020.

Charging Technology Currently Available In India

According to SMEV, the Government of India has been exploring different charging models for faster deployment of electric vehicles in the country. Currently, there are mainly two kinds of chargers based on the speed of charging:

Slow Chargers – These are domestic charging points and public charging stations which have as low capacity as 1.2 KW-3 KW (kilowatt). The billing is mostly done through domestic metering. These chargers are used with 5 to 15 Ampere single phase plug. These chargers supply alternating current (AC) to the vehicle’s onboard charger which converts the power into Direct Current (DC) which charges the battery. Through these chargers, a vehicle takes about 5-6 hours to charge completely.

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What Is Alternating Current (AC)?


This type of circuit is used for electricity supply in slow chargers. Most of the charging facility available at public places and at homes use AC chargers.

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India's Push To Go Electric: Status Of Charging Infrastructure For Electric Vehicles In India
A slow charger installed at Scope Complex, South Delhi

Fast Chargers – These chargers usually have a capacity of 15 KW-50 KW or more. These chargers send direct current (DC) to the EV’s battery through a port and can charge a vehicle in half an hour to 90 minutes. These are mostly useful for cab companies and corporate users who have fleets of electric cars.

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What Is Direct Current (DC)?


DC means that current flows in only one direction. DC is used in fast chargers. These have the capacity to charge an electric vehicle much faster than an AC charger.

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India's Push To Go Electric: Status Of Charging Infrastructure For Electric Vehicles In India
A fast charger installed by Energy Efficiency Services Limited in the parking area of Scope Complex, South Delhi

While setting up of private charging stations at home/apartment/office can be done easily, public charging stations need to meet a minimum infrastructural requirement.

Ravneet Phokela, Chief Business Officer at Ather Energy asserted,

When we identify a place to install a public charging station, we make sure that there is some place for the EV drivers and passengers to spend time while the vehicles is being charged. So we find spots in and around places like malls, markets, restaurants, cafes, and public offices. The second most important thing to ensure before installing a charging station is the availability of the required power capacity. For example, for putting a charging station of a low-range electric-scooter, it is important that the power capacity or the voltage is at least 3 KW.

Also Read: Now, It’s Possible To Charge Your Electric Vehicle Within 15 Minutes, Thanks To This Start Up’s Low-Cost Innovation

Impact Of EV Charging On The Electricity Need Of The Country

According to Mr. Phokela, growing EV penetration is likely to boost electricity demand, which may put additional strain on the electricity networks leading to more load shedding than what is currently being experienced in many parts of the country. An EV with a daily commuting distance of 30–40 km will need the energy of almost 6 KW from local DISCOM (electricity distribution companies), which is almost equivalent to the daily power needs of a small family. Hence, adding one more EV in the area would mean an increase in power requirement similar to that of one more family. This has presented a challenge on the power generation companies as the shift from fuel to electricity requires an increase in electricity production.

According to a study done by Coal India in 2018 titled ‘Coal Vision 2030’, e-mobility is likely to be a key “demand driver of electricity” and assuming a market share of 15 per cent by 2030, EVs could result in increased power demand of nearly 16,000 crore units of electricity by 2030. According to the Ministry of Power (MoP), India generated 1,20,630.6 crore units of power in the year 2017-18.

Along with an increased demand for electricity, there will be an increased risk of overloading of local transformers especially during peak hours when most EV owners would charge their vehicles. According to EAI, the overloading can be tackled by encouraging off-peak charging among users by offering discounted rates

India’s Push To Go Electric: Status Of Charging Infrastructure For Electric Vehicles In India

 

Also Read: Customs Duty On Electric Vehicles Parts Increased From 2020, To Boost Local Production

Charging EVs With Renewables

Shifting charging of EVs to renewable energy like solar energy from the conventional source which is thermal power, would help in decreasing the carbon emission caused by thermal sources. Solar power based stations could play a significant role in achieving the mission 2030 as gradually all the players involved in charging of EVs would shift to renewables, said Mr. Phokela. He further said that, according to an estimate by Ernst & Young, by the year 2030, EVs are expected to reduce emissions by almost 40 per cent, compared to combustion engine vehicles if run on electricity produced from renewable sources.

He also said that even if the electricity used for running EVs continue to be coal-dependent, carbon emissions are still likely to reduce by at least 20 per cent.

Setting an example of using solar energy to power EVs, as part of its green transportation initiative, Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (MPUVNL), Bhopal which purchased seven electric cars from EESL on a pilot project basis for its senior officials, is running them purely on solar power. Surendra Bajpayi, Assistant Executive Engineer, MPUVNL said,

We purchased seven electric cars a few months back to give our officials a feel of the vehicle. We are currently generating 60 KW of solar power which is more than enough for the seven e-cars we have. Solar is the perfect solution to the carbon emission problem that the world is facing today.

 

India's Push To Go Electric: Status Of Charging Infrastructure For Electric Vehicles In India

Using solar-based charging stations for EVs will also help in taking off additional load from the grid and ensure energy security. At present, according to the MoP, the renewable energy capacity of the country stands at 74.08 Gigawatt out of the total power production of 349.288 Gigawatt. As per the data from MoP, about 25 Gigawatt of renewable energy, is currently coming from solar energy. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) targets to generate 175 Gigawatt of renewable energy by 2022 to cater to the demands of EVs and other energy efficiency initiatives.

Also Read: From Electric Vehicles To Solar Panels, This Ecologist From Dehradun Has Made Sustainability A Way Of Life

India’s Push To Go Electric

India’s Push To Go Electric is a special series by NDTV-Banega Swachh India team. Through a series of five articles, we aim to demystify the concept of electric mobility in India as it targets to achieve at least 30 per cent of vehicles on road to be electric by 2030. The series provides an overview of the current status of the electric vehicles sector in India and the challenges faced by it in terms of infrastructure and technology.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.

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