Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in India: Need of the hour and challenges in way

As per an industry analysis, increased use of EVs by 2030 will shoot up the electricity demand by 100 TWh.

August 3, 2021 3:35 PM
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While electric vehicles are still a long way from becoming mainstream in India, the EV market shows increasing demands. According to a 2019 white paper by the World Economic Forum, the Indian automobile industry is one of the fastest-growing markets, even though it accounts for only 0.5% of the global EV market.

Small commercial vehicles are powering the electric vehicles revolution in the country. A report by CRISIL Research estimates that electric two-and three-wheelers will continue to grow and by 2024, their penetration is expected to be 12-17% on new vehicle sales for electric-two-wheelers and a whopping 43-48% for three-wheelers while the share of electric vehicles (EVs) in the four-wheeler space is expected to remain low in the next five years.

Today, nearly 2 million battery-powered three-wheeled rickshaws are plying on Indian roads that are primarily low-speed e-rickshaws that come with a maximum speed of 25 km/h. Not only are they cost-effective for the owner or the driver, e-rickshaws, as they are popularly known, are easy to charge and run efficiently for a day besides being green and noise-free.

Though the Indian EV market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 44% during 2020-2027, with the annual sales hitting 63 lakh units by 2027, India is still in a nascent stage of EV adoption. The country is grappling with several challenges such as range anxiety, high prices of electric vehicles (electric four-wheelers), battery production capabilities, electricity consumption, and a shortage of charging stations. Out of all these, the lack of robust electrical charging infrastructure is a significant setback.

As per a MarketWatch report, India would need around 4 lakh charging stations to accommodate the demand for 20 lakh EVs on the roads by 2026. Currently, the country has 1,800 charging stations as of March 2021. An independent study by CEEW Centre for Energy Finance indicates that it would need around 29 lakh public charging stations by 2030 to support EV adoption under the base case target of NITI Aayog. Of these, about 21 lakh (71 percent) of chargers would be low capacity chargers used for supporting two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Besides setting up more charging stations, the lack of space is also a hurdle since people need a place to charge their EVs.

The electric charging infrastructure faces several gaps and challenges when it comes to development. In India, AC001 and DC001 chargers are the primary choices for public charging places, whereas most 2W, 3W and 4W models do not use them.

Lack of support for grid development to cater to the increased load is another major problem. As per an industry analysis, increased use of EVs by 2030 will shoot up the electricity demand by 100 TWh. Then there are other challenges such as a lack of land, a lack of instruments to lease government-owned and agency-owned land to set up the public charging stations, and the lack of affordable renewable energy means charging EVs that is weighing in on the already stressed electricity grid that runs on coal.

However, a study by CEEW Centre for Energy Finance indicates that the transition into the EV market poses a never-like-before opportunity for multiple market stakeholders. This massive market opportunity might be a key driver of India’s post-COVID economic recovery, creating jobs and economic value throughout the value chain, both in existing businesses and establishing new sectors.

To make India a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030, the government of India is taking several measures to overcome the challenges. But whether these measures are adequate to achieve the goal in the stipulated timeframe is yet to be discerned. A balanced ratio between the number of EVs on-road and the charging stations is required to motivate early adopters to choose EV and alleviate range anxiety.

Author: Sameer Aggarwal, Founder and CEO, Revfin

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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