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EV Infrastructure is present market need

March 26, 2021 2:13 pm

EV Infrastructure is present market need

Industry leaders here discuss how EV is not anymore the future but current market trend.

The development of EV charging infra in India has multiple and unique challenges. The 4 keys ones amongst them are Heat, Humidity, Harmonics and Humans. Hence the EV charging infra in India cannot be a cut copy paste solution from European or American countries.

Infrastructural development to set up EV charging stations in India

The rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) market is steering innovation in EV technology and related infrastructure. A fundamental element here is the charging infrastructure in the country. We are witnessing surging demand for public and private EV charging solutions. Investment in the sector must continue to increase – not only investment by automakers for the improvement of battery technology to enable greater range and cost efficiencies, but also investments by others in a widespread charging infrastructure network to satisfy growing demand.  To which Shashikiran NK, Managing Director, Arushi Green Energy ( India ) Private Limited said, “As far as Arushi Green Energy Green Energy is concerned, the challenge would be to get approvals from the DISCOMS for the dedicated power connections from them. There are issues such as the rule that connections will be given only for the owner of the premises, in which case as the service provider If Arushi Green Energy wants to install a EV charging Station at a location we have to persuade the owner of the premises to apply for the connection /provision of dedicated line. We hope this issue is resolved at the earliest.”Charger OEMs, Distribution Companies (DISCOMS) along with charge point operators are working closely to upgrade the Infrastructure. Low Voltage and Medium Voltage components need to be upgraded  along with the integration of renewable energy and battery energy storage systems, reducing pressure on the existing components.CP Vyas, President, Electrification Business, ABB India continued, “ABB provides a complete solution for EV charger and Infrastructure development by offeringtotal electric vehicle charging solutions from compact, high-quality AC wall boxes, reliable DC fast-charging stations with robust connectivity, to innovative on-demand electric bus charging systems, transformers, sub-stations, and switchgears – ABB deploys infrastructure that meets the needs of the next generation of smarter mobility.

ABB Ability™ connected chargers enable fast global service and proactive maintenance. ABB has years of experience in creating, installing, and maintaining charging infrastructure, including several nationwide charger networks.” To which Maxson Lewis, Managing Director, Magenta Power said, “Having said that, these challenges provide an opportunity to solve problems which in effect can then become the benchmark for other South East Asian countries. And Magenta has been the front runner in making EV charging solutions in India, for India.Let us take two case in points – 1.) Extending the usage of Streetlamps for EV charging. The ChargeGrid Flare is one such product. 2.) Residential charging where dedicated parking is not available. Magenta has deployed a shared charging solution (hardware, software and deployment model) at few high rises. We are working closely with several RWA (Residential Federation Associations) and Housing societies to take this solution from pilot to scale.Reinventing EV and EV charging for India is the way forward and many like minded companies are working on this line.”

Under PLI scheme

The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, which is aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing and export can push the use of electric vehicles (EV), which have faced headwinds in India given the high battery costs. Indian companies generally import batteries, which account for more than half the cost of an EV. The government has proposed building of local manufacturing facilities. One of the key aspects of the scheme  is that the proposed battery policy is output-based rather than input-based. To which NK said, “Under the PLI scheme Arushi Green Energy has high hopes that Indian battery industry will rise to the challenge to produce the latest generation of Li-ion batteries that has become the standard for EVs.”

Vyas added, “The PLI scheme is said to have potential to add USD 520 billion worth of manufacturing in the next five years. There is no doubt that it will accelerate automotive manufacturing in India, given the outlay of INR 18,100 crore for advanced chemistry cell batteries.” The scheme will provide impetus to the battery manufacturing ecosystem in the country and will also allow for cost control of battery manufacturing, along with domestic manufacturing of cathodes, anodes and separators. Lewis explained, “The subsidy is linked to the output manufactured and the value addition achieved by private entities. Private entities will be eligible for a government subsidy only if they achieve a 60 Percent value addition within five years of the date of commencement of the project, that is when they are expected to reach full-scale production. This is actually a very smart way of encouraging battery manufacturing in India.But like with all well intended schemes few things will be key to ensure proper implementation – 1.” Ensuring the benefits of the scheme are indeed passed on to entities which make investments on this count and now to change the goal post midway. Second is to be discreet to offer the benefits of the scheme to companies who are investing in cell manufacturing capabilities and not battery pack assembly lines. Else the entire intent will be lost to creating an undue and unfavourable system.

EV industry at its peak

For India to harness its true potential and move towards substantial electric vehicle mobility, it is important that all transport stakeholders not only value the importance but work towards the effective implementation of the same by looking at all the factors holistically. Along with the support of economic policies, achieving economies of scale is the need of the hour to push the electric vehicle sector in India. It cannot be left to either the government or Industries to make this happen in isolated manner.NK added, “India to have 30 Percent of EV of the total vehicle population is a big challenge, but Arushi Green Energy has seen the interest as the high cost of the vehicle is now offset by the low cost of operation by as much as 500 Percent. That cost push is the real driver for faster reach of the 30 Percent goal for EVs in India.”India is providing incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles (2 ,3 and 4 wheelers including buses). With majority of vehicles sold in India being 2 and 3 wheelers, and there being a significant push towards electrification of 2 and 3 and 4 wheeler vehicles and fleets, we anticipate adoption to catch pace soon. Furthermore, the electrification of public transport is also gradually underway, that being the focus of FAME-II.Vyas said, “To fasten the pace of adopting electric vehicles, initiatives have been proposed through non-monetary benefits for EV drivers, such as reserved parking, toll exemption or discount, and reward points. Various state governments have already come up with their own EV policy, and we are expecting similar policies to be formulated by other states as well.”The adoption of EV in India will be driven by customer adoption and how quickly we reach the 2 Percent adoption inflection point. Fortunately there are a lot of tailwinds for EV in India now. Primary one is the increasing fuel prices which is pushing the business case in favour of EV. I believe the government is conscious that a push towards the adoption of EVs will mean reduced oil imports — much of which is used for operating vehicles. It would allow the government to free up these funds towards the establishment of the needed infrastructure to run electric vehicles such as charging stations across the country and battery production capacity.Lewis said, “The reducing cost of batteries due to increase in scale is another reason.Overall however, Indian consumers have opened their buying decisions to include EVs and that’s is a first step. We are in the stage of awareness jut before we hit adoption where the buyers are moving from pioneers to masses.”

Challenges for EV chargers

The EV charging station is primarily powered from the grid which can be replaced by a solar photovoltaic system. However there are some inherent technical challenges to Solar PV , namely 1.) Variability of PV power generation and 2.) Diurnal nature of PV power generation and Nocturnal consumption load for charging. Both these challenges can be solved by an intermediate storage (local battery storage).

NK said, “Energy Storage is limited not by technology but by the cost and complexity of it. Till the time that the cost becomes affordable the other solution is battery swap stations.” Vyas continued, “There are some major challenges in this regard, including limited driving range, high battery and maintenance costs, battery issues, and lack of proper charging infrastructure. Battery prices are one of the biggest challenges in the shift to EVs.”Lewis said, “The additional cost of Solar and battery is what makes the business case prohibitive as of now. But having set up India’s first solar based EV charging station in 2018 and the learning from that pilot and many others we are working on reducing the cost of this setup leveraging some components already existing in the ecosystem. We believe the business case for this additional capex even after optimisation will be driven by utilisation of the chargers.”

Support for EV transition and reduce the carbon emissions

Mandatory electrification of public transportation in the country would mark a huge step towards achieving this. Also, a push for government offices and departments to run on electric vehicles will greatly support this cause.NK said, “The Indian Government has thrown its weight behind global goals of reducing green house gases and its EV push is a sign that there will be no legislative lag in bringing the changes required.”Vyas explained, “The focus should be on renewable integration, so that power plant emissions are recognized and acted upon. Additionally, legislative support should be provided through non-fiscal incentives to the electric vehicle owners, as well as development of sustainable charging infrastructure in the country.” Lewis concluded, “I will limit the response to this question to purely EV adoption. One of the policies in waiting is the one to mandate EV charging in new apartments. This will drive confidence and adoption. This coupled with the scrappage policy and the technical solutions falling in place will drive the adoption on a mass scale.”

Relevance of EVs infratructure in Indian market

Off late petrol and diesel prices in India are on a vertical trajectory upwards.  The increasing prices  are indeed pushing the business case in favour of EV. The math is quite simple and if we use a the example of an EV in New Delhi. Here, charging the vehicle at home will cost around 6.25 per unit. At this range, the full charge for a 40 KwH will cost 250 in 6-8 hours. To which  NK said, “The current fuel price rise is a burden that citizens have to bear, but it does provide the ideal condition for  EV adoption, nothing moves a customer as the cost that he pays.” Once it becomes common knowledge that it will cost less than a rupee to travel one kilometer by his own EV and it would be more than 6 to 7 per kilometer by fossil fuel cars, you can guess which he/she would prefer.Vyas elaborated, “Following the production cuts in manufacturing countries, fuel prices in India have been surging. This indicated an improvement in the total cost of the ownership of electric vehicles. As EVs rely on whole or part on electric power and because of the increased efficiency of electric-drive components, the fuel economy is assessed differently than that of conventional vehicles, giving EVs the power to bring down the fuel costs dramatically.”Using more energy-efficient vehicles like electric vehicles is a crucial aspect of persisting this trend of minimizing imported petroleum. Global automakers are also switching to 100 Percent electric vehicles in their long-term planning.Lewis explains, “A 40 KwH battery, found in the new EVs being offered and which is bound to become the choice, offer a range of about 300-350 km on a single charge. This brings us to running cost of 1 per km for an electric vehicle with 40 KwH battery being charged at home as compared to 6 per km for an average ICE vehicle.”

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Energy Storage is limited not by technology but by the cost and complexity of it

Shashikiran NK, Managing Director, Arushi Green Energy ( India ) Private Limited

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One of the key aspects of the scheme  is that the proposed battery policy is output-based rather than input-based

Maxson Lewis, Managing Director, Magenta Power

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Global automakers are also switching to 100 Percent electric vehicles in their long-term planning

CP Vyas, President, Electrification Business, ABB India

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