October 20, 2021

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Charging infrastructure: The roadblock that could stop electric vehicles in their tracks

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The Government of India (GoI) launched the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage to promote clean, connected, shared and holistic mobility initiatives in March 2019.

Electric mobility has gained traction in India in recent years with a concerted focus towards incentives on vehicle and charging infrastructure, demand creation, and an enabling policy and regulatory framework.

The Government of India (GoI) launched the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage to promote clean, connected, shared and holistic mobility initiatives in March 2019.

Delhi has been one of the cities where conventional private vehicles are a major contributor of emissions such as CO2, NOx, SO2 and particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10). Electrification of road transportation could be a possible way to bring down the levels of these emissions in the city.

Electric mobility has remained an important priority for Delhi as is evident through various policy-level efforts.

The Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi launched the Delhi EV Policy in August 2020 to promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Since then, there has been a significant increase in the share of EVs in new vehicle sales in Delhi. The share has tripled from 1.2% in August 2019-July 2020 to 3.3% in August 2020-July 2021.

Under the EV policy, the government has set a target of 25% EV penetration among total vehicle registrations by 2024. Under the same initiative, a campaign called “Switch Delhi” was launched to help consumers understand the benefits of EVs and urge them to switch to it.

As per a recent analysis by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) towards transport de-carbonisation in the state, 23% of all new vehicle registrations by 2024 will be of EVs, which is close to the state’s target of 25%. Further, the analysis also suggests that the aggregate EV stock in 2030 would represent 11% of the total transportation fleet.

The shift from internal combustion engine (ICE) to EVs has the potential to create a social and economic shift for consumers and manufacturers. However, to boost confidence amongst consumers, a readily available and fairly managed power distribution system for public and private charging infrastructure is necessary. Further, the electricity utilities in the city need to be ready to manage the increase in demand due to EV charging.

According to the EV- Load Estimation Model (LEM) developed by TERI, the expected peak load contribution from EV charging in Delhi could reach a maximum of 4.8% of system peak on peak demand day while the total electricity demand could increase by around 6% of the total consumption in 2030. However, it is important to understand that this will have to be backed by optimum charge scheduling. Hence, it is required to expedite measures underpinning the increasing share of EVs.

Role of tariff rationalisation to enable EV transition

The electricity bill for any category of consumer usually consists of two components: a fixed charge and an energy charge. In Delhi, the average energy charge accounts for 4.5Rs/kWh and fixed charges vary from 50 Rs/kW/month to 250 Rs/kVA/month depending on the consumer category. EV charging does not currently entail a fixed charge in the city.

An increase in the fixed charge due to additional meters would deter consumers who own multiple EVs from charging simultaneously, especially during peak hours. Group housing societies/offices with common parking areas could optimise the number of charging sockets or the number of fast chargers so as to reduce the fixed charge component of their electricity bill.

Paradigm shift in the public transportation system

Recently, the Government of NCT of Delhi announced the induction of 1,000 new electric buses in its fleet, which are to replace CNG buses by the end of 2021. Therefore, the charging of e-buses may increase power demand due to fast charging requirements, especially during periods of evening peak load. Our analysis suggests that following pricing signals can optimise the charging requirement from shifting evening peak charging to daytime while also opening new avenues for solar charging at bus depots. However, for this to happen, bus depot operators need a renewed strategy to synchronise with distribution utilities and charge point operators to coordinate charging of buses.

Promoting Public Charging

When it comes to charging private vehicles, there could be a behavioral shift in consumers charging their vehicles during the day at commercial office spaces, between their morning and evening commutes. Promoting office and public charging would make EVs available for charging during solar hours, thereby reducing the integration cost (due to storage) of solar PV. Hence, it is important to note that utilities need to plan for more public charging stations so as to reduce the evening peak demand.

Going forward, the transition towards clean transportation through EV adoption should be highly prioritised to manage EV charging and adoption of policies that promote affordability of costs as well as availability of EV charging infrastructure. A combined effort through various stakeholders in the ecosystem would make this EV adoption faster and fair to consumers in the coming decade.

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