Can Government's Push to Develop Charging Infrastructure Increase Demand For Electric Vehicles?

The Centre is keen to develop charging infrastructure after realising that it will mirror the growth in adoption of electric vehicles in India
Can Government's Push to Develop Charging Infrastructure Increase Demand For Electric Vehicles?
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At a time when India is focused to develop manufacturing and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), the stakeholders are also looking to develop the charging infrastructure to support e-mobility. According to the EVConIndia whitepaper published this month, India at present has only 350 public EV charging points compared with 16,000 points in the US and 400,000 in China.

While speaking at EVConIndia 2019, Sameer Pandita, director of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under Ministry of Power, explained that the uptake of EV vehicles is dependent on the robustness of the charging infrastructure. The Indian government has been pushing to develop the charging infrastructure after realising that it will mirror the growth in adoption of EVS in India. 

Amended Charging Infrastructure Guidelines

Last week, Union minister of state for power and new and renewable energy (independent charge) and skill development & entrepreneurship R.K. Singh approved amendments in the charging infrastructure which involves suggestions from various stakeholders. According to the revised guidelines, BEE has been nominated as the Central nodal agency. The guidelines also has provision for state nodal agencies. According to the statement, these nodal agencies will act as facilitators in installation of EV charging infrastructure across India.

According to the revised guidelines, a phase-wise installation of network of charging infrastructure has been envisaged in the guidelines ensuring availability of at least one charging station in a grid of 3 Km X 3 Km in the cities and one charging station at every 25 km on both sides of highways/roads. In the first phase, EV charging stations will be set up in  existing expressways connected to mega cities with a population of over 4 million within one-three years. In the second phase (three-five years) big cities such as the state capitals, UT headquarters may be covered for distributed and demonstrative effect.

Apart from this, fast charging station for long range and/or heavy duty EVs such as buses and trucks, among others, shall be installed at every 100 km for the ease of inter-city travel. The guidelines also stated that private charging at residences/offices will be permitted and DISCOMs may facilitate the service. Setting up of public charging infrastructure has been delicensed and thus any individual or entity can set up public charging point.

The tariff for the supply of electricity for public charging stations will be determined by the appropriate commission in accordance with the tariff policy issued under Section 3 of the Electricity Act 2003.

Loopholes In Charging Development Plans

According to the EVConIndia whitepaper, only 10 per cent of the latest subsidy programme is allocated for charging stations. Earlier in July, the government reportedly began inviting proposals for development of EV charging infrastructure under the second phase of FAME.

Magenta Power’s managing director, Maxson Lewis, had earlier said, “The government is doing what it has to do to bring a positive narrative about EV charging. That is why they are talking about putting up the charging infrastructure. But there is a slightly non-practical, non-technical view of things that the government has. What they are doing is good, but it may not be correct”.

According to Lewis, the government can help the ecosystem without investing. “The government need not get into the business, they need to simplify it for others to get into it. It does not have to invest to build the EV infrastructure, it needs to simplify the space for others to build it.” Lewis explained that for instance if the government says it will put up 3,000 charging stations then companies may assume that the government has taken up the responsibility. But then the question remains, are the chargers being put up or are they operational?

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