Factors to ensure sustainable EV charging infrastructure: Location, charger type & more

As EV adoption will evolve gradually, sustainability of charging operations will be a challenge till the scalability of EVs is achieved.

August 12, 2021 5:35 PM
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Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption is gaining momentum in India: The EV penetration is gaining momentum in India and there is increasing support both from the government and private sector to drive this further. The government has been supporting the acceleration of EV adoption through multiple policy initiatives, such as the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) Scheme, etc. With increasing EV adoption, there is also a corresponding increase in the requirement of supporting infrastructure.

To meet this demand, the government at various levels is actively formulating guidelines, such as guidelines on setting EV charging infrastructure by the Ministry of Power; amendment in model building bye-laws (MBBL-2016) for EV charging infrastructure by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, etc.

The private sector is also supplementing government initiatives by product innovation, improving battery density, reducing ownership cost, improving charging time etc. Thus, efforts such as incentivizing EV, introducing new policies, campaigns and initiatives by private companies are playing a catalytic role in bolstering EV adoption and allied infrastructure.

Charging Infrastructure is the lifeline for electric mobility

To foster EV adoption, the availability of charging infrastructure is a key prerequisite, and it is reported that the EV adoption in India would need 4 lakh charging stations by 20261. The government has also planned to set up charging stations at every 3kms in cities and every 25 km on both sides of highways to enhance accessibility2.

The charging infrastructure development will be supported by key drivers, including:

Location: Location is one of the critical factors considering the range anxiety and charging time involved for EVs. Thus, a mix of home charging, public charging, destination charging (workplace/ commercial) is needed to extend the range and increase charging access.

Charger Type: To augment the usage at charging location by installing the most appropriate charger mix i.e. charger type (slow/ fast) and charging standards to ensure inter-operability within the EV ecosystem.

Power: EV charging at scale requires adequate planning of electric distribution system and grid infrastructure to ensure power availability at the charging locations.

Technology: Application of right technology will make operations of charging infrastructure ecosystem more efficient and further enhance seamless customer experience.

Realizing the increasing importance of promoting EVs, some government agencies have started setting up charging infrastructure at some locations, either through partnering with private sector or by directly awarding turnkey contracts. Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have entered into a relationship for developing charging infrastructure facilities across the toll plazas and other NHAI buildings3.

Similarly, Tata Power in an agreement with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) aims to provide end-to-end EV charging stations at HPCL fuel stations.4 In addition to such initiatives to create the much required initial traction, innovative business models are also critical to make charging infrastructure operationally and financially viable. It will allow to rationally manage risk in the ecosystem based on risk appetite of each stakeholder.

Way forward: Making charging infrastructure a sustainable solution

As EV adoption will evolve gradually, sustainability of charging operations will be a challenge till the scalability of EVs is achieved. The infrastructure viability can be achieved by understanding the requirement of key ecosystem players including consumers, government, and private operators. On the consumer side, there is need to provide accessibility and availability of supporting infrastructure to instill confidence among users for buying EVs. From the operator side, when there is limited EV traffic on road, operators can be offered additional privileges such as availability of land at subsidized rate for creating infrastructure, provision of generating additional revenue from commercial activities etc. From the government’s perspective, it should create conducive policy environment and encourage private sector participation from OEMs and operators to develop supporting infrastructure. The interplay of all these factors will make infrastructure sustainable in the long run.

Author: Pranavant, Partner, Deloitte India

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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