Electric vehicle: Charging infrastructure as a constraint : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-3: Technology Missions, developing new technology. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Key phrases: electric vehicle, infrastructure, FAME India, Discoms, charging station.

Why in News?

  • India’s EV transition needs to be accompanied by a boost in charging infrastructure

Electric vehicle infrastructure in India:

  • ACMA’s July 2021 report reveals that India’s EV market in FY21 comprises 61% electric two-wheelers, 37% electric three-wheelers and light commercial vehicles, 2% electric four-wheelers, and 0.2% e-buses.
  • According to NITI Aayog, EVs should account for sales of 80 per cent of two and three wheelers, 50 per cent of four wheelers and 40 per cent of buses by 2030 — must be accompanied by a rapid improvement in charging infrastructure. Even if 30 per cent of all vehicles sold in India are to be EVs by 2030, we are looking at a figure of over 15 million EVs, against current EV stocks of perhaps under nine lakh, dominated by two and three wheelers (90 per cent).
  • To get to this output goal, India needs to get three parts of the EV game right: the production of vehicles, batteries, and the presence of charging stations. The first two are on stream, with investments and collaborations proceeding at a hectic pace. They have been aided by a demand side push through FAME, and a production linked incentive for making the EVs and their batteries. It is no one’s case that charging requires a similar public outlay.
  • Hence, it is imperative to create augmentation plans for setting up charging infrastructure across geographies.

Plug-in charging infrastructure status

  • As per the data published by Central Electricity Authority, there are 927 public charging stations in India, as of 30th June 2020.
  • Department of Heavy Industries sanctioned 3,397 charging stations under FAME-I & FAME-II. Under FAME-1, 427 charging stations were established in different cities of India. This number also includes charging stations established or some well-known highways connecting major cities.
  • Under FAME-II, 2,877 stations have been sanctioned with the target of PAN India coverage. The top 5 states (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujrat, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh) have been allocated with -48% of total charging stations under FAME-II. Effective implementation of these charging stations is likely to positively impact the consumer sentiments towards apprehensions about charging vehicles and range anxiety.

Reasons for lack of charging infrastructure in India:

  • EV charging Infrastructure financing: In addition, projecting cash flows for charging stations is a major concern for financial institutions due to the limited utilization of chargers. To evaluate an EV charging project, the financier will evaluate the projected cash flows and risks associated with the project.
  • At present, for a PCS, there is typically a large outflow, including the capital expenditare, grid connection cost, energy cost, debt servicing, the land fee (if any), as well as operations and maintenance. The projected cash inflow requires EV growth rate assumptions which are highly dependent on state and national policies, availability of vehicle models in the market, consumer’s awareness and emergence of charging business models.
  • Some major issues are lack of connector standardization, no common APIs mapping charging infrastructure across the country, telecom provider dependent connectivity and issues with discom infrastructure, including power outages, voltage fluctuation and absence of net metering.
  • Lack Of Clarity on Land Ownership: In many cases, the ownership of the land parcel on which EV charging is to be installed is not clear. For instance, while commercial shops and other establishments often govern the street parking outside their premises, this is often publicly owned land that can be reclaimed at any time for road widening or other such purposes.
  • Setting up public charging infrastructure is a daunting and expensive proposition. It involves disrupting already congested travel corridors, finding suitable charging spaces and substantial outlays to achieve a decent network of public EV charging infrastructure.
  • 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.

Measures for building a charging infrastructure ecosystem in India:

  • With the high cost of setting the EV charging station, the only way to make fast charging stations feasible is to increase their utilization. For that charging infrastructure should be set with DC charging which is more useful than AC charging technology. Even the government also needs to help for setting up the charging infrastructure by investing with EV companies.
  • Lay out the governance structure of the EV charging ecosystem by identifying the regulatory and executive government agencies involved in charging infrastructure implementation, and by defining the roles of charge point operators and e-mobility service providers.
  • To set up the Electric Vehicle charging station, the location of the charging station is a major challenge. Location or design of charging station should be such that it is easily visible, accessible, save time, and charging queue can be minimized.
  • Initiates the planning process with an overview of the access- and demand-based approaches for setting targets (for number of public chargers required), and defines a methodology for assessing energy demand for public EV charging.
  • Focuses on supply of electricity for charging infrastructure, familiarizing readers with the regulations that govern electricity supply for EV charging, the role of DISCOMs in provision of EV charging connections, and identifies three models in India – the government-driven model, the consumer-driven model and the charge point operator-driven model – for charging infrastructure implementation.
  • Battery swapping stations could be an alternate strategy. They are easy to install and operate. Such stations can be set up in the above-mentioned locations as well as at petrol bunks. They need less space (as low as 3x2x2m) and battery manufacturers can work on models wherein swapping stations with 4–6 batteries can be provided even at small retail outlets.
  • All urban local bodies can mandate at least a minimum number of charging points in the parking lots. The numbers would depend upon the actual demand. Parking lots could adopt a feasible revenue model for providing EV charging stations. This could be replicated in parking lots in offices, railway stations and airports with a minimum number of charging stations being stipulated for each site.
  • A mandate of reserving at least 10% of parking lots for access-controlled charging points would make EVs even more attractive. We believe that the Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs has already amended the residential property bye laws to mandate sufficient EV charging points housing colonies/building apartments

Way Forward:

  • An EV charging infrastructure that draws power from local electricity supply can be set up at private residences, public utilities such as petrol and CNG pumps, and in the parking facilities of commercial establishments like malls, railway stations, and bus depots.
  • The Ministry of Power has prescribed at least one charging station to be present in a grid of 3 km and at every 25 kms on both sides of the highways.
  • Central Government and State Governments are taking numerous measures to make India a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030, With such promising steps taken at the policy level and adoption of green strategy by major private sector automobile players, we can expect a rapid change in our vehicles in the coming years.

Source: The Hindu BL

Mains Question:

Q. In the growing demand of Electric vehicles, discuss the challenges faced by electric vehicle utilization in India. What steps should be taken to tackle these challenges? Critically Examine.