To promote e-mobility in India, the Ministry of Power, on 14th January 2022, introduced the revised consolidated Guidelines & Standards for Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles (hereinafter, the Guidelines). The Guidelines play a pertinent role in facilitating the e-mobility transition in India by increasing the affordability, accessibility, and reliability of the charging infrastructure. These guidelines are comprehensive as they deal with issues ranging from public charging stations to the tariff for the supply of electricity. This article aims to study the provisions under the recent Guidelines, analyse the same, and delve into the suggestions for their effective implementation.
Exploring the Contours of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Guidelines
The Guidelines allow individuals to charge the Electric Vehicles (hereinafter, “EV”) at their residences and places of work with the help of their existing electricity connections. A private entity is free to set up a public charging station till the time it complies with the standards and protocols laid down by the Ministry of Power, Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Central Electricity Authority (CEA) from time to time.
The government, through the new Guidelines, aims to establish a grid of 3x3km for the EVs. On the highways, a charging station would be available within every twenty-five kilometres. These charging stations would be present on both sides of the highways. To facilitate this goal, the government may resort to the installation of public charging stations at the existing outlets of the oil marketing companies. It is interesting to note that the Guidelines also target heavy-duty EVs such as trucks and buses. A separate list of compliances, such as the requirement of at least two chargers of a minimum 100 kW (with 200-1000 V) each, has been specified for the long-distance and heavy-duty EVs.
Under the Guidelines, the public charging stations can apply for electricity connection and the distribution licensee would provide the same as per the timelines provided under the Electricity (Rights of the Consumers) Rules, 2020. The public charging stations set up in metro cities would be able to have connectivity within the seven days of applying. The deadline extends to 15 days in the case of other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas. The Guidelines also present the option of procuring power from any power generating company through open access.
To provide for advanced remote or online booking of charging slots, it is necessary for the public charging station to have a tie-up with at least a single network service provider. This would allow the EV owners to have the requisite information pertaining to various aspects such as a number of the installed and available chargers, location, and applicable service charges. While acknowledging that few public charging stations would be set up for internal use of an entity, the Guidelines additionally mention that no network service provider tie-ups are needed in that instance.
One of the key features of these Guidelines is that they provide for the single part tariff for the electric supply to the public charging stations, which would not extend the average cost of the supply until March 31st, 2025. A separate meeting arrangement would be provided for the public charging stations, as opposed to the domestic charging, so as to ensure that the consumption is recorded and billed in line with the applicable tariffs. To further reduce the cost, the government has provided electricity at concessional rates along with the subsidies to set up the Public Charging Stations. Moreover, the state governments would be fixing the ceiling of service charges, which are to be levied on these charging stations. The Guidelines, inter alia, provide that the DISCOMs may leverage on the funding from the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme for the augmentation of the general upstream network, which is necessitated due to the upcoming charging infrastructure. It specifies that the “cost of such works carried out by DISCOMs with the financial assistance from the Government of India under the revamped scheme should not be charged from the consumers for the Public Charging Stations for EVs.”
The recent guidelines play an instrumental role in ensuring the process of charging is made affordable for EV users. The public charging stations would be set up on a revenue-sharing basis at the fixed rate of Rs 1/kWh. More and more public charging systems would be set up by using the land available with the government and private entities.
It is pertinent to note that a phased manner would be followed with respect to the rolling out process. Phase I, which ranges from the first to third year, would target all the megacities having a population of over four million. In this phase, all the existing expressways and important highways linked with the above megacities would also be included. Thereafter, under the second phase (which would range from the third to the fifth year) would cover certain big cities, state capitals, and headquarters of the Union territories.
Moreover, these Guidelines are made technology agnostic because they provide for prevailing international charging standards available in the market as well as new Indian charging standards.
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency would be the central nodal agency for the rollout of the EV public charging infrastructure. Moreover, every state government can have its own nodal agency for the purposes of setting up the requisite infrastructure.
Requisites of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
The Guidelines can be perceived as a massive step forward to promote the adoption of EVs in India by increasing accessibility and affordability. They should be lauded for introducing a reliable economically viable and coordinated system to regulate the charging of such vehicles. They further tend to address the long-existing lacunae, which persisted with respect to the applicable tariffs.
In India, one of the reasons as to why the adoption of EVs has been quite staggered is because, according to the data with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (“MORTH”), for 9,47,876 registered cars, only 1028 public charging stations are there. This was observed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. Therefore, from the above figure, it could be clearly observed that the country does not have the necessary infrastructure to cater to the growing demand for EVs. These guidelines have identified the existing problem and provided appropriate solutions for the same. As discussed above, apart from the installation of an adequate number of public charging stations, the individual consumers will also have the option of charging the EVs at their homes or places of work. The Guidelines state that under private charging, the batteries of the privately owned cars are charged through the domestic charging points and the billing is done via the home or domestic metering. On the other hand, for charging outside the home premises, the power needs to be billed and payment needs to be collected. Moreover, the power drawn from these chargers is regulated from time to time.
The provision of private charging, in addition to public charging, would overall result in consumer welfare as now the private users do not have to rely completely on the government for the charging process. They can bridge the implementation gap by setting up their own charging stations. Further, the government has also been taking the right steps to bring down the price of electric vehicles by providing subsidies. At present, the price of the majority of Electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers are almost equivalent to their petrol counterparts.
India has set the target of meeting 30% EV sales penetration for private cars, 70% for commercial vehicles, 80% for two and three-wheelers, and 40% for buses by 2030. However, earlier this goal seemed unachievable due to the high costs associated with EVs and lack of the required infrastructure for public charging stations. The new Guidelines strive to make certain that the country is back on the track to meet the above-mentioned objective. This has been possible due to the subsidies that have been provided by the government. It is predicted that the sale of the total electric vehicles in India would reach approximately 10 lakh units. This number is equal to the units sold collectively in the last fifteen years. Apart from this, the government has introduced a portal called e-Amrit to make India a more conducive place for the manufacture and adoption of EVs.
Furthermore, the Guidelines aim to strike a balance between accessibility and safety. By allowing private entities to set up charging stations, the government has not only made the charging of EVs more feasible for individuals but has also reduced its burden of being the sole provider of the charging stations. Annexure 3 lay down a list of requirements to ensure that the safety protocols have been followed
Instrumental Role Played by EV Charging Infrastructure
The Guidelines would play an instrumental role in transforming and shaping the future of the use of EVs in India. They have efficiently recognized the existing issues and have formulated promising ways for addressing the same. Not only would they help in promoting energy security, but would also help in the reduction of emissions that are harmful to the environment which is a major concern at the global level. This would enable the country to take a step forward in the direction of its concern to save the environment and sustainable development.
However, the success of these Guidelines entirely depends on their effective implementation. Therefore, both central and state governments shall play a crucial role in its success in introducing a user-friendly EV policy. It is suggested that the Central Government or the Central Nodal Agency should keep a check on the performance of all the States with regards to the Guidelines. It should ensure that the development is taking place in a continuous and coordinated manner. Moreover, since the private individuals and entities for public use are free to set up their own charging stations, measures should be taken to ensure that the safety standards are strictly being met.
The success of these Guidelines entirely depends on their effective implementation. Therefore, both central and state governments shall play a crucial role in its success in introducing a user-friendly EV policy. It is suggested that the Central Government or the Central Nodal Agency should keep a check on the performance of all the States with regards to the Guidelines. It should ensure that the development is taking place in a continuous and coordinated manner.