Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state-owned Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), recently announced the launch of its new digital marketplace for electric two-wheelers. The portal aims to sell 10,000 units this year in Kerala and similar applications are being developed for five other states. CESL is also homogenizing demand for e-bus transport across nine cities. We got in touch with Mahua Acharya, MD and CEO, CESL, who elaborated on the CESL’s operations, targets and provided us with insights on India’s EV future.
1. The NITI Aayog states in a proposal that 70 percent of all commercial cars, 30 percent of private cars, 40 percent of buses, and 80 percent of two-wheeler and three-wheeler sales would be electric by 2030. What role do you see for CESL in this ambition?
CESL is an energy transition company. We believe that the integration of renewable energy projects will serve as a powerful catalyst for India’s energy vision. Hence, we are actively working to achieve the goals set by the government for the induction of green modes of transportation in different categories in the next five years. CESL is also building upon its decentralised solar development experience in under-served rural communities in India to deliver renewable energy solutions to power agricultural pumps, street lighting, domestic lighting, and cooking appliances in the villages.
As part of our strategy to fulfill the government’s agenda of establishing 100 GW solar PV by 2022, we have already set up a 175 MW+ decentralised solar project in Maharashtra and Goa. CESL is also collaborating with different state governments and urban local bodies for scaling up of PM KUSUM scheme through solarisation of 20 lakh standalone agricultural pumps and farmer feeders. In addition to this, we have also set up a solar power plant in Ladakh along with an innovative solar-powered carport in the region. We are leading the energy transition agenda through the Gram UJALA scheme in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. CESL is planning to further extend this programme to Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, and West Bengal.
2. How do you see the EV scenario evolving in a country where ICE vehicles are considered more convenient and are hence preferred?
EVs are emerging as a big opportunity for automotive industry to spearhead the government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. We believe e-2W and e-3W markets have the largest scope of growth in India. However, the lack of standard charging protocols is becoming an irritant in this journey, but we are hopeful of overcoming this. The implementation of State EV policies holds great significance in the evolving e-mobility scenario in the country. There is also a need for the development of an operational structure for the financial incentives to encourage private investments in the sector.
4. Do you think EV adoption in India would really benefit more from a ‘One Nation, One Policy’ approach instead of states having varying EV policies?
While it is important to have one consolidated policy for the acceleration of electric vehicles, the support from state governments is also an integral aspect of a smooth transition. The introduction of dedicated EV policies by different state governments is not only encouraging mass adoption of EVs but also propelling the country towards a 100% EV transition goal and Energy Independence target.
5. Are Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) the way forward to a clean energy mobility system? Is hydrogen fuel cell tech worth exploring first for larger transport vehicles?
Given the growing awareness about electric vehicles, availability of cost-effective solutions, and ease of accessibility, it is safe to say that the future of mobility is positively electric. The country is pacing towards green and sustainable solutions, especially with the advent of new technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells. Such technologies are proving to be powerful and pragmatic solutions to overcome environmental challenges and induce innovation in the mobility space.
While internal combustion engine (ICE) technology still has a role to play, it will eventually phase out as new and better technologies come in that are cleaner and offer the same things that consumers want. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel-cell cars (FCEVs) are inevitable.
6. How will the PLI scheme for advanced chemistry cell (ACC) manufacturing help boost the EV market in India?
The primary agenda behind the introduction of the PLI scheme for manufacturing of Advanced Chemistry Cell was to boost the EV market in India. The government is aiming to set up Giga scale factories for promotion of exports, production of high-quality globally competitive products, and creation of new job opportunities. The scheme is also expected to induce direct investment of around Rs. 45,000 crores from leading manufacturers.
This competitive bid-based scheme will mandate the manufacturers to set up an ACC manufacturing facility of a minimum 5GWh capacity. Subsequently, the battery or cell manufacturer will have to achieve a domestic value addition of 25%, showing a minimum investment of Rs. 225 crores per GWh within two years, raising it to 60% domestic value addition within 5 years.
7. Is one charging station every 3 km the solution to range anxiety? Currently, what is the situation and how do you see things unfolding in the next three to four years. Do you think personal cars will be the last to go electric in India?
It certainly helps.
But location is key. For reasons that make it commercially important, strategically important, safety concerns, user access and other similar things that we don’t know enough about yet.
India is at an inflection point in its e-mobility journey and is likely to see significant strides in EV adoption and penetration in the country. CESL has been at the forefront of this effort, continuously undertaking initiatives such as launching India’s first digital marketplace – MyEV in Kerala, which will enable easy access to consumers for booking and buying electric two-wheelers.
Connectivity and access to charging stations should not be a concern in the longer run. Much like petrol pumps, charging stations will eventually be set up as and where needed to help recharge EVs and to ensure a seamless travel experience.
8. Will the EV mechanism work like CNG did for public transport which changed the way at least the city transport works in some major cities?
While CNG kits do help in bringing down harmful emissions, EVs are more capable of ensuring zero emissions as they are powered by battery packs. Hence, they have a major advantage over any other powertrain that is currently in production form.
Noting that the EV market is entirely consumer-driven, indigenous low-cost battery technology, localization of EV components, and massive domestic demand will further make EV the most affordable mode of transportation in the coming years.
In addition to this, not only has the registration of EVs been going up, with 2,413 of them were registered in July. The last two months have logged more electric vehicles being sold in Delhi than purely CNG-run ones, especially after the launch of the EV Policy.
9. What is the CESL targeting in terms of electric two- and three-wheelers, working with various state governments?
CESL has recently launched an e2W Digital Marketplace platform In Kerala that will help consumers to choose from various electric vehicles according to their requirements. The firm is expecting sales of 10,000 units this year through the website and the platform which has been created specifically for this purpose. This scheme has been initiated from Kerala but is expected to expand in states like Goa and Andhra Pradesh.
Furthermore, CESL is also planning an integrated battery energy storage system powered by solar energy for charging stations in few cities. It will play a pivotal role in the completion of targets and propelling the nation towards an energy-efficient future. It aims for a smooth and seamless energy transition, with a strong EV ecosystem and renewable energy setup.
10. Currently there is no regulatory mechanism charging infrastructure in India. Is this lack of regulation or policy in standard charging infrastructure for the country impacting the expansion of EV adoption in the country? What do you reckon a sturdy policy for charging infrastructure entail?
While the government has been pushing for EV adoption, the accessibility to proper charging infrastructure is still lacking.
Charging infrastructure needs a host of obstacles to be overcome before GoI’s goal can become a reality. We now need to address all these in a concerted manner. We are facing regulatory barriers like land availability; dedicated parking bays are not available leading to inconvenience for EV users to charge; unstable grid supplies; security deposit amount of DISCOMs is a huge cost for operators; varied supply code conditions of DISCOMs etc.
We also believe that policies must be devised strategically to encourage private participation through new business models suited to public charging in the country.
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