In India, although the development of the electric vehicle (EV) market has been marginal as compared to more established markets in Europe, North America and China, it has gained notable traction in recent years, after a period of staggered progress. India is a part of the global EV30@30 campaign, which targets at least 30 per cent of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030. At the 2021 Climate Change Conference, the government has outlined a target to reduce its carbon intensity by 45 per cent and reach net zero emissions by 2070. EV charging infrastructure has taken centre stage and a number of initiatives are being taken in this direction.
The government views the EV industry as a sunrise sector and has taken many initiatives to encourage its widespread adoption in the country. The innovative “Go Electric” campaign was launched by the Ministry of Power (MoP) in March 2021.
The MoP has emphasised that charging infrastructure does not need a licence under the Electricity Act, 2003. The guidelines issued by the government state that the relevant regulatory agency will set the tariffs for public charging stations. The guidelines also include captive charging stations and battery swapping, which has been welcomed by the industry. The Central Electricity Authority has also amended technical criteria relating to grid connectivity and charging station safety. Supporting the government’s plans are leading power sector PSUs, which are taking the lead in setting up charging infrastructure. Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), Powergrid and NTPC have been engaged in the installation of charging stations. While NTPC has so far installed 150 public charging stations, EESL has installed around 141 and Powergrid has set up about 14.
To set in motion the National Electric Mobility Plan and fulfil the commitment to reduce India’s emission intensity by 35 per cent below the 2005 levels by 2030, the central government has pushed state governments to rapidly frame and implement their EV policies. Between 2017 and 2020, 15 states notified or drafted their EV policies. These include Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Gujarat and West Bengal. Odisha was the most recent state to come up with an electric policy. Furthermore, the government’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles I (FAME I) and FAME II scheme has now been extended by another two years to March 31, 2024.
In order to promote domestic manufacturing, the union cabinet recently approved a production-linked incentive scheme to accelerate manufacturing of batteries and components in India. The government will provide financial support up to 8-13 per cent for auto component manufacturers and up to 13-18 per cent for EV manufacturers through the scheme for a period of five years.
The Odisha EV Policy, 2021 aims to accelerate EV adoption, notably electric two-wheelers (E2), three-wheelers (E3) and light motor vehicles. The state targets 20 per cent battery EV registrations by 2025. To keep up with the constantly expanding transportation sector, a dedicated EV cell has been set up to execute and monitor the strategy.
The Odisha government also aims to build a battery assembly plant in partnership with lithium cell makers. The policy exempts EVs bought in Odisha from paying road tax and registration fees. The state would also provide a 15 per cent subsidy, with an upper limit of Rs 5,000 for E2W, Rs 12,000 for E3W and Rs 100,000 for E4W.
Charging infrastructure – Key recent initiatives
The Indian EV landscape predominantly consists of small-scale AC and DC chargers. Slow charging infrastructure is mainly installed at residences, workplaces and public places. It requires a very low investment as compared to fuel stations. To improve the charging infrastructure in India, large-scale public charging stations have been planned across the country and the adoption of EVs has been incentivised. These expansion plans are also set to benefit from developments in software and IoT-based technologies.
To help boost the uptake of EVs and charging infrastructure, EESL has been spearheading efforts for demand aggregation for the procurement of EVs and charging stations. It is supporting several municipal bodies, metro corporations and other city-level organisations in facilitating the EV transition by bringing in innovative business models for the roll-out of public charging infrastructure. Discoms such as BSES, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited have also started setting up charging stations in their areas of operation through collaboration with charge point operators. In July 2021, Tata Power partnered with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to provide end-to-end EV charging stations at retail outlets in multiple cities and on major highways across the country. Another key development took place when the Mumbai-based EV solutions provider Magenta announced its plan to set up the country’s largest public EV charging station in Navi Mumbai as part of its goal to provide 4,000 charging facilities by March 2022. Currently, in India, EV charger operators can only choose from a limited set of prefabricated charging options. They incur significant costs if they want to scale up their charging output. Thus, smart charging technologies could prove to be a game changer for the EV sector.
Numerous initiatives are under way to provide EV charging infrastructure around the country. The government has identified nine expressways for charging stations, with 6,000 already sanctioned and another 3,000 on the way. Tata Power has also grown its reach in the electric three-wheeler and two-wheeler charging sector and currently operates a network of over 1,000 EV charging stations throughout the country. Indian Oil, the nation’s biggest state-controlled refiner, now has 448 EV charging stations and 30 battery switching stations around the country. The company intends to increase the number of charging stations to 2,000 within a year and to another 8,000 during the next two years. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited is focusing on EV charging infrastructure as one of its most focused segments and plans to build 7,000 stations over the next five years, while HPCL plans to build 5,000 stations.
With less than 10 years remaining to achieve the target of 30 per cent EVs in India’s mobility fleet by 2030, proactive participation of the state governments will be a key driving factor. Depending solely on market forces to achieve the transition to EVs as per the desired timeline may not suffice. Rapid urbanisation in India has been accompanied by a rapid increase in transport emissions, with road transport contributing about 87 per cent to the total emissions. A greater push towards EVs from all stakeholders is necessary to significantly cut down carbon emissions and reduce pollution levels in Indian cities. Transport decarbonisation will also help bring down India’s dependence on oil imports, saving crucial foreign exchange for the country. The transition to EVs can thus not only create a better environment but also improve energy security in India.