Rolling out the EV charging network

Synopsis: Steps taken by government to increase EV charging network in India.

Introduction

The Indian vehicle market is poised for a historic leap into electrification. On the rollout of a charging network for electric vehicles (EVs), India faces the classic chicken and egg problem—EVs require charging infrastructure and that requires EVs.

According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, there are 1,800 charging stations in India as of March 2021 for approximately 16,200 electric cars.

To achieve the expectations by 2030, it has been projected that India will need 29,00,000 charging points at an investment of Rs 21,000 crore, in addition to in-home charging points.

What steps are being taken by govt to increase charging infra in India?

Guidelines by Min of power: The Ministry of Power has issued guidelines applicable to EV charging stations. Public charging stations shall be a delicensed activity and any individual or entity is free to set these up, obtaining electricity under open access.

Regulated Tariff: The tariff, determined by the state electricity regulatory commission, shall not be more than the average cost of supply plus 15%. Private charging at residences is permitted, and domestic tariff is applicable.

FAME policy: The Department of Heavy Industries has laid out the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) policy. FAME provides upfront incentives on the purchase of EVs as well as for development of charging infrastructure.

Green licence plates: The Ministry of Road Transport has announced that EVs will be issued green licence plates.

Development of indigenous standards: The Department of Science and Technology and the Bureau of Indian Standards are collaborating on developing indigenous charging options and standards.

Reduced rates on charging station equipment: The GST Council has reduced the rates on charging station equipment from 18% to 5%.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is involved in facilitating partnerships among state governments, public sector partners and private companies to enter this space.

NITI Aayog is spearheading the Mission for Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, that seeks to proliferate low-cost charge-points for two-wheelers and three-wheelers across Bharat.

What are the other alternatives to e-Vehicles?

Hydrogen fuel cell has been provided as another solution for adoption of green automobiles. Hydrogen-power technology is a contrary to Tesla and other automotive giants’ battery-led technology. However, there are also concerns over whether splitting the tightly bonded oxygen and hydrogen atoms of water is energy inefficient.

About 50 units of electricity is required to produce a kilogram of hydrogen. Why use electricity to produce hydrogen when you already have it, is the question posed.

What is the way forward?

Need to sort out the issues related to uniformity of standards and “interoperability.”

The concern over EV charging time can be resolved by battery swapping. Battery-swapping facilities are to be set up alongside charging infrastructure.

The three types of interoperability i.e., plug type, charger-to-network communication, and network-to-network communication, all need to be aligned.

Source: This post is based on the article “Rolling out the EV charging network” published in the Business Standard on 8th September 2021.

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