EV Charging Infrastructure Policy: A mixed bag with promising bare-bones for Public Charging

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ev charging tata
ev charging tata

In a country that has 8 crore registered vehicles, around 9.5 lakh EVs is now noticeable, not because it is anywhere yet material (

What is playing catchup is the charging infrastructure and across locations e.g., housing societies, public charging stations, depots, parking lots, you name it. This is where the obvious chicken and egg problem sits – what should come first: vehicles or chargers? who will take the risk of going first? Most such chicken and egg problems need an orchestration of multiple players with a shared conviction for the common future. We need multiple parties to work in parallel: governments, OEMs, charging infrastructure providers, customers, to name a few. 

The government’s role in this orchestration is to incentivise adoption and set the structure with the right boundaries. Done well, good policy can mean the difference between leapfrogged industry or tailing a trend. The latest EV charging infrastructure guidelines rolled out by the Union Power Ministry are a promising step in this direction. It addresses both public charging and private charging infrastructure, prioritising the prior and staying out of the way on the latter. 

Government of Kerala was one of the early movers in establishing public EV charging facilities across the state

The difference this time over a series of amendments in the last four years is the leap in clarity it has attempted, with a few new pragmatic additions, for example, revenue sharing incentives for public charging sites. The key miss is that it falls short on specificity in areas like tariffs, private charging, data architecture, etc. Nevertheless, in my view, it provides enough ammunition for good execution to push forward. The success of it depends on how well it is implemented and whether the centre and state nodes follow suit.

Six key areas that stand out in public charging:

  1. Magenta launches ChargeGrid Flare – a street lamp integrated charger and planning to establish 1000 EV Charging Centres across the country 

    Coverage: Aim to have at least one Public Charging Station in every 3 km X 3 km area. And one Fast charging station for long-range or heavy-duty EVs every 100 km. 

  2. Speed: Aim to implement this network in the top 9 cities with more than 4 million population in the next 1 to 3 years
    1 and 2 make for the most significant ambition statements that everything works backwards from. Early indications in some of these cities are proof points. CESL recently unveiled a tender for ~5500 EV busses in 5 of these cities (Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Surat). Order of magnitude, this means that India would need around four lakh public charging stations in the next five years alone. 
  3. Ease of business: Electricity connection granted for Public Charging Stations within Metros in 7 days of applying. While this is not a critical path activity in setting up a new charging station (civil and electrical work wins hands down), for any regulated activity, a set ETA is welcome.
  4. Support: Land for public charging stations made available at a revenue-sharing basis at Rs. 1/kWh for 10 years
  5. Customer-first: same one-part tariffs for EV charging and battery swapping services. Although, falls short of specifics here.
  6. Data first: All public charging stations to tie up with at least one National Service Provider (read MSP equivalent) and all station data logged centrally at a State and Central node.

The data first thinking is a welcome approach and is most fundamental to get right. Done well, a central repository of all public charging locations at a state and centre level; evolving to live availability could solve the range anxiety for customers. This could be the lever to the catapult of EVs that we much need in India and fast.

Separately, on private charging at housing societies, depots, etc. the policy stays out of the way. There is no doubt, scope to aim and incentivise this segment as well, but staying out of the way is better than setting the wrong boundaries. The clarity in private charging and more pragmatic specifics for public charging are something to look forward to.

The author Kasturi Gomathan is with Shell looking at Global M&A E-mobility, Renewables, Hydrogen. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer, Shell, its controlled ventures, or affiliations.

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