Charging Infrastructure For Electric Vehicles In India: Policy And Challenges.

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1 February, 2020

 

Charging Infrastructure For Electric Vehicles In India: Policy And Challenges.

 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for the success of deploying electric vehicle (“EV”) scheme in India is the lack of adequate charging infrastructure (“Charging Infrastructure”). The revised guidelines for Charging Infrastructure for EV, issued on October 01, 2019 (“CI Guidelines”),[1] aim to simplify the process for setting up Charging Infrastructure. Below is a brief analysis of the CI Guidelines:

 

I. Nodal Agencies

 

The flow of regulatory agencies is as below[2]:

 

flow of regulatory agencies

 

II. Types of Charging Infrastructure

 

  • Public: Under the CI Guidelines, setting up of a public charging station (“PCS”) is a delicensed activity since it is deemed to be a service.[3] An individual entity can set up a PCS which is broadly categorized as: (i) fast charging station (“FCS”) for long range or heavy duty EVs; or (ii) moderate or slow chargers. The CI Guidelines have suggested setting up a state nodal agency under whose watch an intermediary can roll out a PCS. The CI Guidelines contemplate competitive bidding for PCS rollout. In fact the CI Guidelines direct that PCS be installed on priority basis in company owned and company operated retail outlets belonging to oil marketing companies. Flexibility has been provided for installing any one of the prescribed charger types.[4] Each such charger requires a separate meter and an exclusive transformer with related substation equipment. Separately, charging stations can also be set up by obtaining electricity from any generation company through open access.[5]
  • Private: CI Guidelines permit the setting up of private charging points in residences or offices. These charging points are meant for self-use. Any person can approach the state nodal agency to set up a private charging point.
  • Restricted Public Use: Charging stations can also be installed in housing societies, malls, office complexes, restaurants, hotels and other public places. However, only permitted visitors will be allowed to use such charging points.

 

III. Goals & Rollout

 

  • Promote faster adoption of EVs by ensuring safe, reliable, affordable and accessible Charging Infrastructure;
  • Promote affordable tariff chargeable from EV owners and charging station operators/owners;
  • Generate employment or income opportunities for small entrepreneurs; and
  • Support creation of EV Charging Infrastructure and eventually create a market for EV charging business.

 

Rollout targets[6]:

 

Rollout Target

 

IV. Challenges

 

Tariff

 

The tariff is to be determined by the state discoms. Differing tariff policy and prices across states result in lack of uniformity. One key factor of success of the CI Guidelines will be the competitiveness on discount given on the tariff for consumption for EV purposes by various states. Domestic consumption rates should apply to domestic charging. However, monitoring the domestic consumption is a practical hurdle.

 

Open Access and Captive Consumption

 

CI Guidelines allow for drawing of electricity through open access from any generation company. However, the charges applicable for such open access has not been specified.

 

Captive consumption has been permitted for 100% internal use for any company’s own or leased fleet. The guidelines, however, does not clarify the ambit of ‘internal use’ –would a company who has leased space in an office park qualify as an internal user?

Similar ambiguity prevails around the definition of a “permitted visitor” and “consumer” of a Charging Infrastructure in restricted public place. The guidelines do not mention if a Charging Infrastructure in public place can be used for profits akin to the captive consumption by malls or industrial parks. Further, it is not clear whether person providing EV charging facilities can earn a margin.

 

Existing Transmission Infrastructure and Cooperation of Discoms

 

The success of CI Guidelines hinges on the supply of uninterrupted and sufficient electricity from the discoms through adequate connection to the transmission lines. Given the state of the transmission infrastructure in India, additional load of charging stations and availability of uninterrupted electricity supply across the length and breadth of the country[7] remain a concern.

 

Time to Charge

 

The current EV batteries can take up to 5-8 hours to charge fully,[8] highlighting the need for an adequate number of charging ports. In India, the CI Guidelines allow a PCS to install one or more chargers of the fast or slow/moderate charger types.[9]

 

Network Service Providers and Data Privacy

 

A single PCS operator or a group of PCS operators may join a network service provider (“NSP”) network to provide information to consumers regarding the availability of charging points at any station and the consumer may book a slot online.

 

However, all consumer information is stored in the NSP database. The PCS operators should ensure that they do not violate any data privacy and protection laws.

 

Battery Swapping

 

Lastly and most importantly, the CI Guidelines do not address the issue of battery swapping. Battery swapping is an elegant solution addressing the problem of EV charging time. Swapping of batteries would allow a great number of EVs to charge their batteries, making it viable to own one. The effective implementation of battery swapping requires a uniform standard of batteries to be present in EVs. In China, one key factor for success of battery swapping was the effective implementation of uniform standards.[10] A battery swapping station would not require the same infrastructure as a Charging Infrastructure and we recommend that this may be implemented in parallel with Charging Infrastructure.

 

In conclusion, the CI Guidelines are the right step forward in improving Charging Infrastructure in India. Addressing some of the above issues will ensure its successful implementation.

 

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Lakshmi Prakash, Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas

lakshmi.prakash@cyrilshroff.com

 

[1] These regulations supercede the earlier guidelines of December 14, 2018.

[2] Currently, 14 states have selected the Implementation Agency for the purposes of the CI Guidelines.

[3] Letter No. 23/08/2018-R&R dated 13.04.2018 issued by the Ministry of Power

[4] The fast chargers have to be prescribing to CCS or CHAdeMO or Type 2 AC chargers. The slow chargers have to prescribe to Bharat DC-001 or Bharat AC-001 standards.

[5] Clause 2.2 of the Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles (EV)- Revised Guidelines & Standards dated October 01, 2019

[6] (a) At least one PCS shall be available in a grid of 3km x 3km; (b) One PCS to be set up at every 25km on both sides of the highway/road; and (c) One FCS in every 100km on each side of the highway/road for long range EVs or heavy duty EVs like buses/trucks. Such facilities may be located within Transport Nagars or bus depots within cities.

[7]“Northern Grid Power Failure: What Went Wrong?” dated August 02, 2012 available at https://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/northern-grid-power-failure-what-went-wrong-3605053.html

[8] “Electrical Vehicles-FAQ” available at https://www.pluginindia.com/ev—faq.html

[9] For example, in the US, Southern California Edison, a California based discom has mandated at least 10 charging ports in every public charging station.

[10] “The Faster, Cheaper, Better Way of Charge Electric Vehicles” dated October 18, 2018 available at https://www.wired.com/story/the-faster-cheaper-better-way-to-charge-electric-vehicles/