GROWING EV CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE IN INDIA
Switch to Green Energy
"Our universe is a sea of energy–free, clean energy. It is all out there waiting for us to set sail upon it."– Robert Adams
Initially, the main questions Indian customers had about electric vehicles were price and driving range. Today, the number-one concern has changed to adequate charging infrastructure. The Indian automotive market is the fifth largest in the world and is highly likely to become the third largest. And yet, this is where we stand, aspiring to go green altogether. The total sales of EV units in 2021 as compared to 2011 is 168 per cent. With a changing market this huge it is vital to initiate EV adoption at a mass level and quickly build a conducive infrastructure for increasing EVs on the road to achieving a 30 per cent transformation of the traffic by 2030.
The availability of EV charging facilities is the most important factor in promoting the growth of EVs. Because e-mobility is still a developing market with limited charging infrastructure, consumers are concerned about range, time, and socket availability. A solid network of charging stations is needed to address the fears of the customers, along with fast charging systems and multiple technologies to address time and socket anxiety issues. Adequate grid connectivity and space for parking vehicles are some of the key aspects that need to be looked at for enabling EV charging infrastructure development.
Keeping these factors in the backdrop, let us discuss the efforts taken to develop EV charging infrastructure in the country.
In 2011, the government constituted the National Council for Electric Mobility as the apex body for making recommendations to promote electric mobility and the manufacturing of electric vehicles. Thereafter, the focus has been across all the verticals of the sector. The 2022 budget announced battery swapping methods as an easier way to charge EVs. The battery swapping model for supplying power has dodged the lack of charging infrastructure, but the future is likely to see a combination of both models. Tenders and collaborations are announced by state governments along with power utilities to ramp up EV production, supply, and adoption, along with setting up charging stations for commercial operation.
The Flagship scheme, FAME II scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles in India) with a budget allocation of 10,000 Cr, provides incentives to EV manufacturers of different segments of e-vehicles, from 2-wheelers to trucks. The DHI has also sanctioned 2636 charging stations in almost 62 cities across 24 states and UTs under the FAME II scheme.
With ever-growing demand and a gargantuan market in sight for EV charging technologies in the coming years, multiple start-ups are lining up with viable plans to meet the demand. Several start-ups have already rolled out their creative charging techs to the government and consumers. Certain start-ups are working on supporting the charging technologies by creating a much stronger power grid system, as building a smart grid is more important as it is the foundation upon which the whole charging industry is going to thrive.
Building an EV ecosystem compels the combined efforts of several players, such as industries, automobile manufacturers, service providers, power utilities, and government bodies. The emerging market has led to the entry of various players who actively work through collaborations at different levels.
PSUs such as Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL) – a subsidiary of Energy Efficiency Services Limited which delivers electric vehicles to government offices and agencies - are in the process of setting up 810 electric vehicle charging stations along a number of national highways and expressways covering 10,275 kilometres across the country. Automobile manufacturers are quickly adapting to the changing needs by partnering with power utility companies and DISCOMS to set up superfast charging stations with compatibility and interoperability features to cater to all vehicle variants.
With increasing oil prices and increasing innovation in the EV industry, the shift from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs is certain. A lot of work is still underway to provide the right ambience for the transition to happen. It calls for holistic development in all sectors. Despite its small size, the emerging industry is showing promising signs of acceptance and development in the near future, thanks to shared goals and serious efforts.