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Home » PREMIUM » EV charging infrastructure: An overview

EV charging infrastructure: An overview

July 6, 2021 6:00 pm

EV charging infrastructure: An overview
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The development of EV charging infrastructure in India is still in its nascent stage. With the momentum in electric vehicles market picking up, EV charging infrastructure is expected to find more traction in future. Mehul Shah, VP Transport BU for Exide Leclanche Energy Pvt Ltd, Nexcharge elaborates more on the market trend.

Consumers and fleets considering all-electric vehicles need access to charging stations, also known as EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment). For most drivers, this starts with charging at home or at fleet facilities. However, it can be challenging as everyone may not have access to an EVSE. Charging stations at workplaces and public destinations may help bolster market acceptance.

Current infrastructure and government planning in India

According to IESA report, the total number of EV chargers supplied in 2019 were around 3,350 units. This includes chargers supplied to EV original equipment manufacturers to be sold along with EVs, PSUs for public or semi-public installations, commercial fleet operators, bus operators and charging service providers.

EV charging infrastructure market has been driven by tenders and policy/regulations by the PSUs. In 2019, under the FAME-II Scheme, the government allocated `1,000 crore (10 percent of FAME II outlay) for setting up the public charging stations for a period of 2019-22. This was split as `300 crore for 2019-20, `400 crore for 2020-21, and `300 crore for 2021-22. In 2019, DHI announced tender for PSUs to install and operate 2,636 charging stations across the country. The results of the tender were announced in January 2020. Currently, PSUs are in various stages of procurement and setting up of the stations.

FAME II policy extensively focuses on electric vehicle charging infrastructure for now. Going ahead, the government plans to make it compulsory to install EV-charging kiosk at all government-owned and operated petrol pumps.

On 12 June 2021, the government made a partial modification of the scheme for FAME India Phase II, including increasing the demand incentive for electric two-wheelers to `15,000 per kWh from the earlier uniform subsidy of `10,000 per kWh for all EVs, including plug-in hybrids and strong hybrids other than buses.

In this modification, the department of heavy industries also capped incentives for electric two-wheelers at 40 percent of the cost of vehicles, up from the earlier 20 percent. The revision in the FAME (II) policy, increasing the subsidy by 50 percent per kWh is a phenomenal move and will go a long way in promoting electric vehicles.

Battery swapping is likely to penetrate 2W and 3W segments predominantly by 2027. On the other hand, 2Ws and 4Ws in the personal segment charging behaviour is not expected to change significantly. 4Ws commercial, that depends on both captive and private charging (sole drivers), are likely to depend more on public charging by 2027.

Components of EV charging infra

Setting up of charging infrastructure i.e., charging station requires: Hardware (charger/EVSE): Charging station that contains several Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)/charge points. So, a charge point can be considered as equivalent to a refuelling hose of a gas station/petrol pump. It requires a connector, through which the electricity is delivered. It can be a socket or a cable. A charger is then connected to one of the connectors depending on the requirement. The connector attaches directly with the vehicle’s socket.

  • Software (Central Management System/mobile app): Central Management System (CMS) is a cloud-based backend system managed by the company operating the charging station. The CMS manages operations on strict authorisation to ensure complete security.
  • Service (maintenance of charging stations and other hardware/ software): Mobile applications enable end-users to find the nearest charging stations, reserve a charging slot and pay. Digital infrastructure availability in the form of charging location finders, IoT infrastructure for multiple cars, online charging reservation platforms, and online payment platforms completes the value chain of the charging infrastructure.

Key market drivers

For the electric vehicle infrastructure to thrive and work smoothly, we need a three-part coordination, comprising the government, industry and community.

Strong government push: The states have introduced fiscal and nonfiscal incentives such as reduced tariff charges for the manufacture and operation of chargers. In addition, treating ‘EV Charging Station’ as a separate category under Tariff Order by electricity regulators has been a huge positive in the direction of promoting e-Mobility in the country. As per the Union Budget announced in July 2019, GST rate on EV charger/charging stations was reduced from 18 percent to 5 percent. The government, as of November 2020, is planning to set up at least one EV charging kiosk at around 69,000 petrol pumps across the country to induce people to go for electric mobility.

Industry initiative

These are just some initiatives we can take at an industry level:

  • Tie up with fleet operators: These are expected to become strategic drivers of the market. They have the right business incentives to develop strategic charging and digital infrastructures to support their own EV fleet given that they often operate many vehicles across India.
  • Tie-up with petrol pumps: Charging companies/OEMs are tying up with petrol pumps to increase the reach of charging primarily through battery swapping option. OLA Electric Mobility and Sun Mobility have already tied up with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for battery swapping stations.
  • Tie-up with shop owners: e-2W companies (like Ather) are opting for decentralised charging systems where they have tied up with shop owners. Under this type of partnership, they can use part of their space for the chargers or tie-up with kirana stores for battery swapping.
  • Community charging stations: We are also seeing a trend of installing of EV charging stations, known as community charging stations, by hotels, businesses, or resorts located about 40-70 km from a city. We can find a normal 15 Amp charge points for electric cars and electric bikes in such locations. This phenomenon has been supported by initiatives such as PluginIndia, a community of EV users and enthusiasts in India who have been promoting EVs since 2013.

End-user challenges

  • Range Anxiety: For an EV user, range anxiety refers to the concern about the number of kilometres an EV will run, i.e., how long the battery power will last. Many EV users like to travel long distances on a single charge, which is not feasible with the current battery technology installed in electric vehicles.
  • Time Anxiety: Customers are keen to charge as quickly as possible which is not feasible with the current charging technologies especially.
  • Charge Anxiety: Charge anxiety is about whether or not the EV will find a charging station in the first place. This is followed by the issue of trust.

CPOs

Sub-optimal utilisation rates: The utilisation rate is at 10-15 percent at public charging stations, considering a fast-charging station charges a car in ~1.5. We do not see more than 2-3 cars coming in for charging on any given day. This is clearly inadequate given the huge capital that has been invested in installing the station. This high cost associated with the equipment and its installation acts as the major challenge. The utilisation rate also remains low because of low EV numbers on road. In addition, FAME II requires at least two chargers of ~100 kW each on every PCS. This may work in a state like Delhi where this much power consumption can still fall under the low tension (LT) connection. However, it may be more challenging in other states.

Private fleet operators

Obtaining reliable electric connection for a fleet-owned and operated EVSE remains a concern.

Impact of COVID-19

Several EV charging station deployments and tenders were delayed during the pandemic. From an industry veteran’s perspective, this will likely result in 10-15 percent deficit in the EV charging space this year. Besides, delay in supply of power modules and other sub-components from abroad have intensified due to COVID.

With strong government thrust for EV transition and its supporting infrastructure, the key stakeholders have been encouraged to drive the market growth through regulatory mechanisms and industry initiatives. EV policy incentives of various states in conjunction with central initiatives, such as low GST rates and FAME schemes, have enabled private players to operate efficiently.

These companies are, however, facing challenges in terms of paying fixed capacity charges based on connection capacity (kVA or kW). The infrastructure set up by these players is severely under-utilised because of fewer numbers of EVs in use. Given the low volume, there should be minimum/no capacity (fixed monthly) charges on EV tariffs in the initial 3 to 5 years for CPOs. In addition, the government needs to plan for increasing the number of EVs on the road by buying a greater number of EVs than what it is already doing through EESL for the different government departments. This will help strike a balance of optimum investment and maximum returns between the service providers and the service in over the long run.

Author:
Mehul Shah, VP Transport BU for Exide Leclanche Energy Pvt Ltd, Nexcharge

Pic Credit: Pixaline from Pixabay 

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