Reiterating its commitment to support the e-mobility transformation in the country, the government recently issued revised guidelines and standards for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. The new guidelines are more investor and consumer friendly, and are expected to enable greater EV adoption. A closer look at the new guidelines, policy scenario and industry initiatives…
Policy scenario – Revised guidelines on charging infrastructure
The Ministry of Power (MoP) recently issued revised guidelines and standards for EV charging infrastructure. These revised guidelines and specifications will supersede the earlier guidelines and standards of December 2018. To address the range of issues confronting EV owners, a phase-wise installation of a network of charging infrastructure throughout the country has been envisaged under the new guidelines. The MoP has also recommended that at least one charging station should be available in a grid of 3 km x 3 km in the cities and one charging station at every 25 km on both sides of highways and roads.
The charging infrastructure will be rolled out in two phases. Under Phase I, which will have a time period of up to three years, all mega cities with a population of over 4 million, their existing expressways and important highways will be covered. Phase II, with a time period of up to five years, will cover state capitals and union territory headquarters. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency will be the central nodal agency responsible for the roll-out. At the state level, state discoms will act as nodal agencies under the revised guidelines.
To address the concerns of intercity travel, the government will install separate charging stations after every 100 km on both sides of highways for electric buses and trucks.
In order to enable faster adoption of EVs, private charging at residences/offices will be permitted. Further, the setting up of public charging stations (PCSs) will be a delicensed activity and any individual/ entity will be free to set up public charging stations provided that such stations meet the technical, safety as well as performance standards and protocols laid down by the government. Any further norms/standards/specifications issued by the MoP and the Central Electricity Authority from time to time will also have to be complied with.
As per new standards, persons seeking to set up PCSs will be provided connectivity on priority by the discom licensee to supply power in the area. Further, charging stations will be allowed to procure electricity from any generation company through open access. The guidelines specify chargers of different standards (viz., CCS, CHAdeMO, Type-2 AC, Bharat AC 001), thus giving PCS owners the freedom to choose the chargers as per their requirements. To keep the PCS technology agnostic, it has been provided that any other fast/slow/ moderate charger adhering to the guidelines of the Bureau of Indian Standards can be installed at the PCS. The previous charging station infrastructure norms required PCSs to install both European CCS and Japanese CHAdeMO charging platforms.
Other policy initiatives
Apart from the new guidelines, encouraging steps have been taken at the central and state level for promoting charging infrastructure in recent years. The central government earmarked Rs 100 billion for FAME II, which is being implemented by the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) under the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, to encourage electric mobility and increase the number of EVs in commercial fleets. In July 2019, the DHI invited proposals for deploying EV charging infrastructure in the country’s smart cities. Initially, a total of 1,000 EV charging stations will be set up. These charging stations will be awarded to different states and private entities post the evaluation of the proposals received. A minimum of 6,000 chargers will be installed at these stations.
As per a NITI Aayog report, as many as 27 states have devised strategies for transforming their mobility systems. For instance, Andhra Pradesh’s Electric Mobility Policy for 2018-23 has a goal of bringing 1 million EVs and setting up 100,000 slow and fast EV charging stations by 2024. The Uttar Pradesh EV Policy, 2019, which was issued in August, has a target of setting up 200,000 charging stations by 2024. In June 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government invited expressions of interest from companies to this end. The state has identified eight cities – Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Agra, Noida, Prayagraj, Ghaziabad and Meerut – as well as three national highways passing through the state for setting up the charging stations.
Industry initiatives for promoting charging infrastructure
A number of public and private companies have announced significant plans for scaling up their EV charging business.
The country’s biggest power producer, NTPC, has invited proposals for setting up 400 charging stations across cities and highways for the creation of a charging infrastructure ecosystem. It is setting up a pilot project on battery charging and swapping for about 50 e-autos. In September 2019, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) joined hands with NTPC to set up EV charging stations in Greater Noida. These stations will be equipped to charge four vehicles at a time. To encourage vehicle owners to utilise the stations, the IOCL is providing free charging at present.
Meanwhile, PSU major EESL is working towards strengthening the charging infrastructure and plans to set up at least 3,000 charging stations over the next two years. So far, 60 PCSs complying with DC-001 (15 kW) standards have been commissioned in the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) area. EESL has signed MoUs with various urban local bodies such as the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation; Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation; Commissioner and Director of Municipal Administration (CDMA), Government of Telangana; the Chennai Metro Rail Corporation; Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation; NDMC; Noida Authority; Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited; Maharashtra Rail Corporation Limited (Maha-Metro); the Maharashtra PWD and CSC e-Governance Services India Limited for setting up public charging infrastructure across India. EESL has also installed a total of 470 captive chargers, of which 170 are DC-001 fast chargers and 300 are AC-001 chargers.
In early 2019, equipment major BHEL installed the first solar EV charging station on the Delhi-Chandigarh highway. The company also developed a central monitoring system for EV chargers with a user-friendly mobile application. The project is covered under the DHI’s FAME India Scheme.
Meanwhile, state discoms have evinced keen interest in the EV charging infrastructure segment. In August 2019, Kerala State Electricity Board Limited invited expressions of interest for constructing 64 EV charging stations across the state. In June 2019, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company came up with a plan to establish 678 EV charging stations across Karnataka. The proposal included setting up 100 charging stations in Bengaluru. In September 2018, MSEDCL announced plans to establish 500 charging stations across the state in the next three to four years. In the private sector too, some major players have shown significant interest. In August 2019, Tata Motors and Tata Power partnered to set up around 300 EV charging stations by the end of 2019-20. The two companies have launched seven charging stations in Pune, Maharashtra. The other fast-charging stations are planned to be installed in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Delhi discom BSES has entered into partnerships with several organisations to set up over 150 smart EV charging stations across its licensed area. Of these, around 50 smart EV charging stations will be set up in financial year 2019-20.
Issues and concerns
While the focus is on creating a robust and smart charging infrastructure, EV charging poses some challenges for the grid, especially during peak hours in the MV and LV distribution grids. During the charging of EVs, the amount of current drawn from the transformer and the voltage drop increase. According to the Forum of Regulators, on a typical distribution feeder with peak loading at 85-87 per cent, only up to 100 EVs can be charged simultaneously within the permissible voltage drop conditions. When a new transformer system is being set up for an upcoming residential area, the transformer can be safely loaded with a share of 60 per centand 40 per cent for EVs and residential loads respectively. Overloading of transformers can lead to the occurrence of transients and long periods of exposure, which can damage the transformer. Hence, it is advised that a detailed study of the transformer loading profile be done by the relevant authorities before integrating EV chargers.
Globally, e-mobility is becoming increasingly relevant as environmental and climate regulations are becoming more stringent, and technological improvements are making EVs cheaper than ever before. To usher in the e-mobility revolution in India, access to a robust, ubiquitous and friendly charging station network will be critical.