The transition towards electric mobility offers India not only an opportunity to improve efficiency and transform the transport sector but also addresses several issues that the country is currently grappling with like mounting crude oil bill, low plant load factor in generating companies and emission problem. However, to accelerate the adoption of electric mobility in India, a lot of preparation needs to be done so that the market grows in a self-sustainable manner with minimal government support and interventions. One of the biggest challenges will be in proliferation of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, which is considered an essential spoke without which the wheel of electric mobility cannot roll.
EV is not an ordinary invention – it’s disruptive, rendering existing automobile industry redundant and replacing it with new vehicles. Though the EVs do the same set of functions as the conventional vehicles it’s the fuel they use for the same makes all the difference – especially in city planning and even in building designs! The fact that vehicle refuelling stations have to be replaced by charging stations is not a task as easy as buying a new car after discarding the old one.
Charging infrastructure is a pre-requisite
If one analyses the industry of EVs around the world, for the growth of the EV industry existence of an efficient charging infrastructure is a pre-requisite. In 2017, the total number of electric vehicles crossed the three million mark accompanied by EV chargers crossing the two million mark, globally. As of December 2017, the world had seven times the number of electric vehicles than the number of available public chargers. The number of publicly available chargers saw a 70% increase in 2016.
China is leading the deployment of public charging infrastructure, accounting for 50% of the total public chargers deployed worldwide. China is followed by the US accounting for just 10%; amongst the rest, 34% comes from 19 countries such as The Netherlands, Japan and Germany, further 6% is attributed to others. One of the primary reasons for this rapid deployment of the electric vehicle chargers is due to a conducive policy and regulatory environment created by the governments.
India is different
In terms of penetration, electric mobility market of India differs from Western counterparts who have already become a matured market. The difference is primarily due to various aspects such as geographical area, public policy, social norms as well as economy. Heterogeneous development in urban areas, large population, low availability of public infrastructure and low affordability pose several barriers to mass scale adoption of e-vehicles.
States are making policy initiatives
Different states are making or announcing their intention to make necessary policy initiatives to create favourable atmosphere to develop charging stations. Karnataka has already stated that necessary changes will be effected in Building Bye Laws to help the installation of charging stations. Recently, Delhi government announced that changes in building bye-laws would be made to make all new home and workplace parking ‘EV ready’ with 20 % of all vehicle holding capacity/parking required to be Electric Vehicle ready (i.e., with conduits and power supply infrastructure in place for Electric Vehicle chargers). Additionally, the building premises shall have to have an additional power load, equivalent to the power required for all charging points to be operated simultaneously, with a safety factor of 1.25. Telangana has proposed requiring charging infrastructure for employees in all government offices.
In Delhi, all existing residential and non-residential building owners shall be encouraged to install Private Charging Points (PCPs) within their premises. These charging points shall especially provide shared access to Electric Vehicle charging for residents of group housing societies and Multi-story apartment complexes. The GNCTD shall provide a grant of 100% for the purchase of charging equipment up to Rs. 6000/- per charging point for the first 30,000 charging points. Grants shall be available for chargers that are either single phase or three phase input but comply with all other BEVC–AC001 specifications.
We need to speed up the process
Time seems to have arrived for us to move on fast track and the state or city level building codes should be modified without setting high standards and creating unnecessary costs to the building in establishing EV infrastructure. A typical building’s power distribution system, which is composed of a series of electrical energy carrying components to carry electricity in a safe and efficient manner, is not usually designed to cope with additional EV loads. However, electric two-wheelers with average 1.5–2 kWh batteries may not pose much of a challenge to the load capacity of most compliant buildings. But to be on the safer side its recommended to carry out assessment of building’s wiring and metering configuration on a case-by-case basis. Individual meters might be required in parking lots to calculate electricity consumption of each end user. For the existing buildings to retrofit the EV charging infrastructure, adequate incentive schemes may have to be offered by the state or local governments. The installation of charging infrastructure by the existing building is dependent on the proportion of EV owners among the households as non-EV owners may be against installation of the same as the costs are variable and rewiring disturbing.
Promote private charging points
Private charging is a crucial component for boosting the initial uptake of electric vehicles, State and local governments must critically assess the plan for the same in terms of regulation, incentives, standards, metering and billing. Metering and billing are of special significance especially in view of recent complaints by consumers in Mumbai region excess billing during lockdown period by Discoms.
Although private charging might remain the most convenient method of charging e-2w, the availability of PCS will also remain critical to tackle the level of anxiety, support unplanned trips by EV and also support EV charging in areas where private/home/destination charging might not be feasible due to lack of EV parking spaces.
A market assessment study of the US, Germany, China, Japan and Finland has shown that apart from the subsidy support, various fiscal and non-fiscal incentives have played a defining role in improving the business viability of setting up a charging infrastructure.
Public charging is a tricky issue
Providing public charging stations within reasonable distance is a tricky issue and will be a challenge for the urban planners. For example, Delhi government aims to provide accessible public charging facilities within 3 km travel from anywhere in Delhi. The issue becomes even more challenging due to the fact that there are several stakeholders involved in the implementation of public charging infrastructure within the city.
Thus, policy and regulatory level initiatives are required to give a boost to both supply and demand-side stakeholders. This includes finalizing standards, regulations and key incentives required to improve the supply-side readiness. In addition, to boost the demand aggregation initiatives are required. State governments are likely to act as facilitators by providing an easy access to land for setting up EV infrastructure.