1. Long way to go for electric mobility

Long way to go for electric mobility

The adoption of electric vehicles is closely linked to the development and availability of required charging infrastructure at affordable prices

By: | Published: August 20, 2016 6:09 AM

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (NEMMP) is one of the most important and ambitious initiatives of the government to bring about transformational change in the automotive and transport landscape in the country.

It has envisaged a comprehensive scheme, covering all aspects of electric mobility.
* Incentive to facilitate acquisition of hybrid or electric vehicles;
* Promoting R&D in areas of battery technology, battery management, system integration, power electronics and motors, etc;
* Power and charging infrastructure;
* Supply-side management;
* Encouragement of retrofitting of old vehicles with hybrid kits.

The NEMMP had envisaged 6-7 million units by 2020 to take a leadership position in the world and also contributing towards national fuel security. It had a planned outlay of R14,000 crore; of this, about R6,200 crore (45%) had been earmarked for power and charging infrastructure.

The government has now planned a big thrust for the sector and aims to turn India into a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030. The Indian automotive industry has made tremendous progress in the last decade and has emerged as the sixth-largest automobile manufacturer in the world, with a capacity of 23.4 million units in 2014-15, including 3.22 million passenger vehicles.

The total number of registered motor vehicles on Indian roads—as of March 2013—was 182 million, of which 24.9 million were cars, taxis and UVs. Today, the number of registered vehicles is estimated to touch 190 million.

Considering the increase of middle-class population, urbanisation and inadequate public infrastructure, vehicular penetration is going to increase further. It is worthwhile to note that vehicular penetration is not only much less than in developed countries, but also lesser than developing countries like China, Malaysia, Brazil and South Africa.

Therefore, it is a gigantic task to have 100% electric mobility by 2030.

The establishment of power and charging infrastructure and its management is key for the success of electric vehicles. The adoption of such vehicles is closely linked to the development and availability of required charging infrastructure at the doorstep and at affordable prices.

Large-scale introduction of vehicles fuelled by electricity—either pure electric or hybrid—implies that private and public charging stations will have to be integrated into the existing low and medium voltage electricity network. This calls for cooperation amongst various stakeholders—both regulated and non-regulated.

The charging infrastructure can be categorised into three broad categories. This classification is critical both from a commercial and technical perspective.

* Private charging stations (homes, office buildings);
* Semi-public or private charging stations on public or private domain (commercial establishments such as hotels, shopping malls, parking places);
*Public charging stations on public domain (along the streets, highways).

Now, private and semi-public/private charging stations are simpler to handle, as these lie in private domain.

The complex issue is how to address public charging stations on kerbs to provide electric vehicle customers seamless access to charging infrastructure. Essentially, we have to give them the same comfort in infrastructure access as they now have with conventional vehicles.

The charging infrastructure broadly includes level-1 terminals (regular chargers, with a charging time of 6-8 hours); level-2 terminals (fast chargers that take 3-4 hours to charge); and level-3 terminals (rapid chargers that charge a vehicle in only 30 minutes).

These facilities need to be created as per requirement and location. Level-1 is suitable for residences and office buildings; level-2 for commercial establishments or parking places; and level-3 is best suited for places such as fuel-stations on the highways.

In addition, the availability of public charging infrastructure varies for different vehicle segments, usage patterns and average vehicle kilometres travelled.

For example, electric two-wheelers may be less dependent on public charging facilities, compared to four-wheelers, as the average distance two-wheelers cover is generally low and thus they can be charged at home.

Essentially, public charging stations will be used mostly by four-wheelers. Countries are heavily investing and providing subsidy in setting up commercial viable infrastructure and enabling provisions through policies and regulations. However, in India, currently very little effort has been taken in this area.

The electric mobility initiative and renewable energy sources need to be developed in an integrated manner to have a cleaner environment, quality of power supply, and efficient transmission and distribution facilities.

The batteries of electric vehicles can be used to store energy and act when required for balancing the variability of renewable energy resources. This would be possible when electric mobility becomes an integral part of the smart grid development.

This kind of operation requires very strong and robust ICT which involves large-scale investment.
There are a large number of players in electric mobility services and their roles need to be defined for smooth implementation of this initiative.

Electric mobility customer: A party that consumes electric mobility services using charging infrastructure and electricity;

Charging station operator (CSO): A party that operates the charging infrastructure, i.e. access control, management, data collection, repair, etc. The CSO may provide either only charging services or combined services of electricity supply and charging;

Service provider: A party that sells electric mobility services to customers, including roaming services;
Distribution system operator (DSO): A party that owns and operates distribution networks and is currently supplying electricity to consumers;

Energy supply retailer: A party that retails electricity supply to customers (currently not in place in India);

Flexible operator: A party that aggregates load flexibility from different users to provide ancillary services to balance the demand and supply in an area;

Clearing house: Financial and contractual clearances between CSO and electric mobility customer, and processes the payment between them to provide roaming services.

Globally, two models for providing public charging system are being contemplated.

Independent electric mobility model: In this, public charging stations are being deployed independently.

All the facilities are owned by the market participant and provide services competitively and thus more than one party might install charging stations in an area or a street.

The charges shall be energy fee, grid/infrastructure fee and service fee. As far as DSO is concerned, it is like any other connection point to distribution grid and bills for energy consumption. This model brings competition to the service.

Integrated infrastructure market model (DSO model): It is characterised by a service market working upon the DSO business model. This becomes a part of the regulated business of operating and managing distribution grid. Thus, there is remuneration of the necessary investment to provide public infrastructure and service is provided through general network fees.

Here, DSO acts as CSO, installing and managing public charging stations. DSO can do this on its own or can engage third-party to provide services competitively.

In India, DSOs are mostly state-owned and already in financial constraint. So, we have to finalise the best model for our country to bring competitiveness, new technology, large-scale investment, speedier implementation and economy in the sector.

Market participants need to be provided with proper regulations, initial subsidy and enough time to prepare and establish their business plan.

The author is former CMD, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.

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