Gaining Traction

Key EV policies, players and technology advancements

By Sarthak Takyar

The Indian electric vehicle (EV) sector seems to have a stronger foothold now, given that a majority of states ha­ve released their EV policies, providing co­n­siderable incentives, and the central government is releasing supportive policies as well in this space. EV charging infrastructure is an important part of the sector. This infrastructure is being stren­gthened with su­pportive policies, technology advan­ce­me­nts and initiatives by private and public companies. Renewable Watch provides a brief overview of the sector…

Draft battery swapping policy

During the Union Budget 2022-23, the go­vernment announced its intent to launch a battery swapping policy. Subsequently, NITI Aayog drafted a battery swapping po­licy on April 20, 2022. As per the policy, ba­ttery swapping would fall under the battery-as-a-service model, wherein customers can pay a regular subscription fee at fixed intervals to service providers for ba­ttery ser­vices throughout the vehicle life­time. Only batteries using advanced chemistry cells, with performance equivalent or superior to EV batteries supported under the Faster Adoption and Manufac­turing of Ele­ctric vehicles (FAME)-II scheme, would be considered under the policy. The policy also seeks to provide incentives for greater adoption of swappable batteries in EVs. It has recommended that the GST Council should consider reducing the differential across the tax rates on lithium-ion batteries and EV supply equipment. The incentives available to EVs that come pre-equipped with fixed batteries will also be available to EVs with sw­appable batteries. The state governme­nts are also required to ensure that public battery charging stations are eligible for EV power connections with concessional tariffs. Such stations have been proposed to be brought un­der existing or future time-of-day tariff re­gimes, to allow sw­appable ba­­t­teries to be char­ged during off-peak pe­ri­o­ds when electricity tariffs are low.

As data sharing will play a crucial role in ensuring interoperability, major battery providers will be encouraged to sign data-sharing agreements to provide information on battery health and performance, and to enable more flexibility for consumers th­ro­ugh peer-to-peer roaming networks. Furth­er­more, to ensure seamless and streamlined tracking and monitoring of swappable batteries throughout their lifecycles, the policy proposes to assign a unique identification number (UIN) to each battery at the manufacturing stage. A UIN number will also be assigned to each battery sw­apping station.

Battery swapping stations have been proposed to be set up at multiple, diverse lo­ca­tions such as malls, retail fuel outlets, public parking areas and local general sto­res. Moreover, to ensure battery safety, sw­a­ppable batteries will be equipped with ad­vanced features such as internet of th­i­ngs-based battery monitoring systems, and re­mote monitoring and immobilisation capabilities. A rigorous testing protocol will also be adopted to avoid any un­wanted temperature rise at the electrical interface. Fur­ther, the policy covers steps for recycling of batteries at the end of their life cy­cles. On­ce finalised, the policy will be im­p­le­me­nted for the development of battery swapping networks in all metropolitan cities with a population of more than 4 million under the first phase; and ma­jor cities, such as state ca­pitals, with a population more than 0.5 million under the second phase. Ac­cording to JMK Research & Analytics, in the first quarter of 2022, key players and partnerships in the battery swapping pace in­cluded Amazon India and Sun Mobility, as well as Tata Power Delhi Dis­tri­bution Limi­ted and Battery Smart.

Revised guidelines for EV charging infrastructure

The Ministry of Power released the “Char­ging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles – Revised Consolidated Guidelin­es and Standards” on January 14, 2022.

The key provision in the guidelines is that EV owners can now charge their vehicles at their residence/workplace using their existing electricity connections. In addition, any individual/entity is free to set up public charging stations (PCS) without re­quiring a licence, provided the stations meet the technical, safety and performa­nce standards and protocols.

In addition, land available with the government/public entities will be provided for the installation of PCSs to other government/public entities on a revenue-sharing basis at a fixed rate of Re 1 per kWh. The rate will be paid to the owner of the land on a quarterly basis. Such agreements may be initially entered into by parties for a period of 10 years. The same model may also be adopted by a public agency for providing land to a private entity. In this case, the PCS will be allotted on a bidding basis, at a floor price of Re 1 per kWh. PCSs will be required to tie up with at least one online network service provider to en­able advance remote/online booking of charging slots. Online information provided to EV owners should include the PCS’ location, types and number of chargers installed/available, and service charges for EV charging. Obtaining electricity via the open access route is allowed, and any PCS/chain of charging stations may ob­tain electricity from any generation company through this route.

The guidelines state that at least one charging station must be available in a grid of 3 km x 3 km, in a bid to remove ra­n­ge anxiety. Furthermore, one charging station must be installed at every 25 km interval on both sides of highways/roads. For long-range and heavy-duty EVs, there must be at least one fast charging station every 100 km. These should be set up on each side of highways/roads, preferably within or alongside the PCS.

Technology advancements

Several technology advancements are being developed in the EV charging spa­ce, which are expected to transform the sector, making it more efficient; and inc­rease EV uptake.

Network management software: EV charging companies and third-party players are providing software solutions to en­able a good end-user experience. Such net­work management software detects the location of different EV chargers all­o­ws billing for the charging and provides de­tailed reports and analytics of charging trends, costs, and even reduction in gre­e­nhouse gases. Some chargers provide V2G support as well.

An example of an Indian player in this spa­ce is ChargeGrid (Magenta Power), wh­o­se network management software is an open charging platform. It can find the location of EV chargers in a 500-meter ra­nge and allows billing for EV charging. The company has tied up with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Exi­com and Delta. Meanwhile, Charge & Drive’s (Fortum) software provides for cl­o­ud-based service. Consumers can find chargers and pay for billing via radio frequency identification, a mobile app or SMS. It also provides remote manageme­nt of chargers. In India, it has tied up with Indian Oil, MG and Hyderabad Metro Rail Corporation. Another company, Vol­ttic, of­f­ers an open network for charging stations along with a payment getaway. It has tied up with Delta and Okaya.

Interoperability and roaming: Interoper­ability makes EV roaming possible, so th­at EV drivers can access charging statio­ns operated by different providers th­ro­ugh a single application or platform. Ag­ree­ments between market players such as charge point operators, mobility servi­ce providers and roaming platforms facilitate such integration. EV roaming makes it easy to cross-publish static and dynamic data in real time, helping consumers acc­ess accurate and up-to-date information from a source of their choice.

Smart charging: Smart charging uses passive and active energy management measures to balance charging demand more evenly and minimise the negative impacts of EV charging loads on the distribution sy­stem. Smart charging, in coordination with passive management measures, is ef­fective in shifting a substantial share of the EV charging load to off-peak times, while still satisfying customers’ charging needs. Further, managed EV charging can be le­veraged to achieve higher renewable energy uptake, by synchronising optimal vehicle charging times with peak renewable energy generation periods.

Wireless charging: To enable longer service hours, smaller battery packs and au­to­nomous solutions, EVs with in-motion (dy­na­mic) wireless charging have emer­ged as a potential measure. For insta­nce, Qual­co­mm Technologies, Inc. has introduced the Halo™ Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging sy­stem, which enables quick charging, su­pporting wireless po­w­er tra­nsfers at 3.7 kW, 7.4 kW, 11 kW and 22 kW with a single primary base pad, and a wireless power transfer effici­ency of over 90 per cent.

The way forward

In July 2022, the minister of state for he­a­vy industries, Krishan Pal Gurjar, reveal­ed that around 1.3 million EVs have been registered in India, in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question. The total number of registered EVs excludes the registrations from Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telan­gana and Lakshadweep. Under Phase I of FAME, the Ministry of Heavy In­dustries (MHI) has sanctioned 520 EV charging stations, of which 479 have been installed as of July 1, 2022. Mean­while, under Phase II, the ministry has sanctioned 2,877 EV charging stations in 68 cities across 25 states/union territories, of which 50 charging stations have been installed as of July 1, 2022. Also, the MHI has sanctioned 1,576 EV charging stations across nine ex­press­ways and 16 highways.

According to reports, oil marketing companies have announced the setting up of 22,000 EV charging stations in prominent cities and on national highways across the country. Of the total, Indian Oil Corpo­ration Limited will install 10,000, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited will install 7,000 and the remaining 5,000 will be ins­talled by HPCL. Private companies such as Tata Power, Fortum, ChargeGrid, Vol­ttic, ABB and Delta have also contributed to setting up EV charging infrastructure in India. According to ICRA, around 48,000 additional EV chargers at an investment of around Rs 140 billion will be installed over the next three to four years in India.

Despite the high numbers quoted, the EV chargers currently available in India are not sufficient. According to the Grant Th­ornton Bharat-FICCI report, India needs about 400,000 charging stations to meet the requirements for the two million EVs that are to come on the roads by 2026. Hen­­ce, the recent policy initiatives, technology trends and initiatives by private and public players in setting up EV chargers is commendable, but a greater thrust is needed in the form of incentives and in­c­reased EV sales to further promote the EV charging infrastructure space.


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