The Ministry of Power has issued the guidelines and standards for India's charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs). Clarity regarding EV charging standards may prove to be helpful for those keen to charge into the EV charging business. This much-needed push for the adoption of electric mobility may cause some respite in what has been lately seen as a chicken-and-egg situation.
The government says this move has been made to enable faster adoption of EVs in India by facilitating a safe, reliable, accessible and affordable charging infrastructure and eco-system. Our sister publication, Autocar Professional, has gained access to the government guidelines, which state that power distribution companies can facilitate private charging set-ups at residences and offices.
Setting up public charging stations will not require a licence, as long as it meets the technical and performance standards and the protocols, as laid down by the Ministry of Power and Central Electricity Authority. In fact, for setting up a public charging station, the power distribution company will provide proper connectivity on priority. Said charging infrastructure can obtain electricity from any electricity generation company through open access.
EXISTING EVs MAY NOT GET FAST CHARGING
The government's specification for fast charging includes CCS, CHAdeMO and Type-2 AC with Rated Voltage (V) being in the range of 200 to 1,000 V. Interestingly, though, as per an EV industry expert, none of the EVs commercially sold in India today can utilise the high-power output, since they are in the range of less than 100V.
In briefly: fast-charging capability is future-ready; however, it cannot be utilised by initial adopters of EVs in India – at least until said EVs are altered/tweaked so as to be able to utilise a higher power input.
The guidelines further propose setting up at least one charging station in a grid of 3km x 3km in the cities; and on both sides of highways/roads at every 25km. In case of “long-distance EVs and/or heavy duty EVs like trucks/buses,” a fast-charging station is proposed at every 100km – one on each side of the highway/road. In fact, the government has said that existing retail outlets of oil marketing companies (OMCs) will be given higher preference for setting up public charging stations, as long as they comply with all outlined safety norms.
Regarding the electricity supply cost cost for public charging stations, the government has said the pricing will be determined by the appropriate commission – provided, "however, that the tariff shall not exceed the average cost of supply, plus 15 percent.”
PHASE 1: MUMBAI, DELHI, BANGALORE
A total of nine cities are shortlisted for Phase 1 (1-3 years) of the scheme rollout – those with a population of over 4 million as per Census 2011. The first phase shall also cover all existing expressways connected to these cities and important highways connected with each of these.
The second phase is due to begin by 2021 and will target Tier-I cities. Union Territory headquarters shall be covered for the purpose of distribution and demonstration.
The government guidelines also mention battery swapping. The guidelines state that it is necessary for public charging infrastructure to have appropriate 'Climate Control Equipment' for fast charging swappable batteries. This effectively means that the government is looking at all possible ways to promote the EV megatrend.
However, this highlights the bigger challenge all EV OEMs will face for battery swapping in India. They would need to not only adopt and accept the same battery size, but also the chemistry; failing which, battery swapping technology would lead to disastrous results for the end-user.