THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING NETWORK
The idea of greater usage and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), besides being futuristic, presents an impactful and constructive opportunity for India. The motivation to adopt sustainable mobility solutions lies in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the dependency on imported energy sources as well as mitigating the adverse impacts accruing from transportation. Interventions in this context exist towards ensuring a more sustainable and climate-compatible Indian transport growth in order to accommodate the development and climate change agendas. In fact, the growing popularity of EVs amongst the consumers may be attributed to the following factors:
-Increasingly stricter norms on emission for fossil-fuel driven vehicles
-Depleting reserves of fossil-fuel and fluctuating prices
-Decreasing cost of battery and maintenance of both EV and battery
-Matured technologies both for EV and battery
-Increasingly affordable and costeffective vehicle options
-Rising availability of EV charging stations with increasing demand for EVs
It is pertinent to note at this juncture that, so far the EV charging network has not seen the kind of growth as expected due to serious constraints in the growth of EVs in India.
GROWTH OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES
The growth of the EV segment in India has been constrained owing to lack of EV charging points/stations, high battery cost, and the typical users’ anxiety over the manageable range of travel. In India, Mahindra and Tata Motors offer electric vehicles, such as the e20 hatchback, e-Verito compact sedan, and Tigor electric sub-compact sedan. Global automakers, such as Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche also have plans to introduce their EVs in India. In the manufacturing sector, there has been some development in the EV space in India with companies, such as Suzuki, Toshiba and Toyotaowned Denso partner together to produce lithium-ion battery mules in the country. Maruti Suzuki aims to roll out EVs by 2020; the batteries for the same will be supplied by Suzuki. The Japanese carmaker has recently initiated testing its range of the Electric Wagon R in India. At the same time, Hyundai is all set to bring in an electric car next year in the country.
However, so far the range of travel in each case is limited to about 130 km and the cost is around 45% more than their internal combustion engine-powered counterpart. Additionally, the charging time is high at 6–8 hours for the batteries, thus making urban commute tedious.
In order to promote EVs on road, the government has finalized the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME)-2 policy. However, no additional subsidy on the import of EVs has been provided therein and the latest financial budget has increased the duty on components. The industry has been demanding a reduction in the GST rate (8%) of EVs and to subsidize modules and components—steps focussed to making EVs a viable option. There is a possibility that EVs imported from advanced countries in a knockdown condition and assembled in India will have to pay reduced duties and this will be one way of encouraging proliferation of EVs in India with reasonable impetus on growth of the automotive industry. However, the biggest concern is the lack of charging infrastructure in the country as a result of which the industry has been suffering significantly.
REGULATORY HURDLES AND INITIAL PROGRESS
The Ministry of Power, Government of India, recently cleared the regulatory hurdles for setting up charging stations by considering charging of EVs as a sale of service. India plans to convert about 30% of its vehicles as battery-powered by 2030. In order to infuse initial activities in this space, several state energy utilities, such as National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC), Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, and Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL), have been roped in. As a part of this initiative, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd is mandated to set up 26 electric-vehicle charging stations in three cities, as India takes first steps towards promoting the use of electric vehicles. Around 24 of these charging stations will come up at every halt of the Hyderabad Metro, each station with a capacity of 15 mWh. The Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd and NTPC have pledged to support the ecosystem until more private investors come in the picture.
The goal is to usher in faster deployment of electric vehicles and state-of-the-art mobility system in India by creating a safe, reliable, accessible, and affordable charging infrastructure and matching ecosystem suitable for all types of EVs. A significant component towards the aforesaid implementation is formalizing an affordable electrical tariff chargeable both from the EV owners/operators on the one hand and the charging infrastructure operators/ owners on the other. This initiative is also expected to adequately prepare and sanitize the electrical distribution system to match the requirements of the proposed charging stations and networks good enough for 24X7 hours of capability round the year with 99.9% of availability. This is also going to establish a satisfactory scenario to promote and support smart grid and smart city environment. Accordingly, the accompanying intense economic and technological activities will promote employment generation and sustainability.
BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE FOR EV CHARGING STATIONS
If the current momentum and government initiatives continue, charging stations should be more visible at workplaces, community areas, gated housing societies, and shopping malls. According to worldwide statistics, the sales of EVs will see immense growth by 2040. A vendor-agnostic electric vehicle charging network in the urban areas and along the national/state highways, to begin with, can provide turnkey solutions to a wide band of users. Suitable technologies and solutions that work in conjunction with EV manufacturers to upgrade their chargers into smartchargers are available and in use. Such smart chargers can be remotely managed and monitored with least possible human intervention. The Government of India has already set the momentum in connection with these by allowing the setting up of distributed public charging stations (PCSs). Such PCSs will be established complete with electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) and other facilities as a de-licensed activity with guaranteed performance criteria, standards, and robust infrastructure. In addition to PCS, under the said initiative, an individual can set up charging stations even in private residences (for personal use) with the priority servicing by DISCOMs.
The EV charging station management network software needs to be reliable, secure, durable, and efficient. Focussed on reducing global carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions by accelerating the adoption and use of EVs in cities around the world, various approaches have been considered to provide turnkey EV charging solutions. The core aspects of such services may be considered as per the following pointers:
1. Electric Vehicle Charging Network: This will be a network interconnecting the distributed charging stations and the central control/monitoring and support centre using state-of-the-art information and communication technology (ICT). For this purpose, a mix of fibre optic and radio communication technologies will be used with reliable and secure connectivity all the time. This network will help in monitoring the health of the charging station equipment, activating and terminating charging events, initiating transactions, and collecting usage data from charging stations. For this purpose, suitable international protocols need be used so that the monitoring/servicing stations ensure two-way data communication with the individual vehicle under service.
2. EV Charging Network Mobile Application: This will allow the prospective user to locate the nearest charging station, query about available charging slot, and navigate to the same. In this connection, information about ownership and charging technologies are also important including those based on pricing. This will eventually help to complete a paperless charging, including ‘prepaid/postpaid’ options with adequate security and other mandatory requirements during such transactions.
3. Central Control/Monitoring & Support Centre: Equipped with ICTbased facilities, such as fibre opticsbased telecom links, various servers dedicated for specific functions, etc., such centres will typically provide 24X7 support for consumers at charging stations being managed under the charging network. This will also include web-based support and online chat-based service assistance directly on the mobile app for the benefit of the customers.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING TECHNOLOGIES
The automotive industry standards classify charging stations into three basic levels based on the charging power, methods, and charging type. EV charging technology is based on several standards—international, region-specific, and even country-specific—all of which are incompatible with each other. It is, therefore, an onerous task to arrive at a single technology acceptable to all automakers and countries.
THE ROLE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY SERVICES LTD (EESL)
The potential of EVs in addressing India’s aims for an energy-ready and environmentally sustainable future has been well recognized by the Government of India (GoI). As a consequence, the government installed the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) in 2013 with a roadmap to bring 6–7 million EVs on Indian roads by 2020; this is in keeping with the GoI’s commitment to achieve 30% e-mobility by 2030.
Inspired by the Government of India, the Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has applied their proven demand aggregation model for bulk EV procurement. The procurement price discovery via the international competitive bidding (ICB) mechanism encourages competitive prices, presenting the more exacting scenario for future demand in India’s EV space. Upon procurement, EVs are planned to be leased out at rentals that equals the present market rates for petrol and diesel cars hired by government organizations. Such organizations can also buy EVs and EVSEs directly from EESL; the EVs so procured and dedicated to the mobility of government staff are likely to be supported by a network of charging stations that are being set up by NTPC and Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, as stated earlier.
The large-scale proliferation of EVs is restricted partly owing to high cost of ownership. If the battery can be taken out of the cost consideration somehow, the overall cost of ownership will be reduced. A third party may have the ownership of the battery and will be responsible for replacing the drained batteries with fresh, fully charged, and standard ones keeping the compatibility with the beneficiary EVs in view. This particular service can also be eventually vested to the PCS owner and can be part of the EV Charging Network. If this facility can be implemented with due care and keeping in view the necessity of quality control and standardization in the process, the waiting time at the PCS for the EV users will reduce considerably. Worldwide this is the trend and there is no reason why the methodology cannot be implemented successfully in India. This will also help the largely unorganized areas of EV business considering largescale spread and usage of electric scooters and e-rickshaws in the country.
RENEWABLE ENERGY AND V2X TECHNOLOGIES
The PCSs shall be supplied electric grid power by arranging dedicated transformers and feeders (1+1) from DISCOMs to ensure continuity of secure and reliable service by the former round the clock. Some of the PCSs may also have their own generation of renewable energy using solar and/or wind power. The excess energy so generated from such PCSs may conveniently be fed back to the grid. This arrangement will be similar to Vehicle to House (V2H) and Vehicle to Grid (V2G) that can also be implemented in households, offices, factories, etc. V2H and V2G, already a reality around the world, will greatly aid in smart grid and Smart City deployment.
Mr Atanu Dasgupta has been a regular contributor to Akshay Urja and is currently associated with VVR Consultants & Enterprises Ltd, Gurugram, and works in the areas of‘smart grid’, ‘smart city’, etc.