Home / Auto / Soon, you can charge your electric car at homes, offices

Mumbai: Owners of electric cars and scooters can charge them at their homes, with priority access to electricity from power utilities, according to new rules that seek to promote the use of electric vehicles in India. Also, establishing a public charging station (PCS) will not require a licence and it can be set up by individuals or entities, provided they meet the standards drawn up by the power ministry and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), according to the power ministry’s final guidelines and standards for charging infrastructure for EVs.

The guidelines, a copy of which has been seen by Mint, were issued on Friday by Anoop Singh Bisht, under secretary in the power ministry, to all Union ministries and departments and the chief secretaries of states and Union territories.

Power tariffs for charging EVs will be determined by the appropriate commission, provided these do not exceed the average cost of supply plus 15%. For residential users, the tariffs for charging will be the same as for domestic consumption of electricity. A PCS can levy a service charge, with a ceiling fixed by a nodal agency in each state.

A spokesman for the power ministry declined to comment.

The new rules are expected to bolster the government’s efforts to roll out the second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles (FAME) scheme in April next year. FAME 2 is widely expected to provide financial incentives of around 5,500 crore to EV buyers over five years.

Companies such as Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Hyundai Motor Co., Volvo Cars and Kia Motors India have already announced plans to introduce hybrid or electric cars. Tata Motors Ltd and Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd are already supplying their electric cars to the Union government. The companies have, however, raised concerns about the inadequate charging infrastructure for such vehicles.

“Charging infra is definitely a key enabler of electrification," said Rakesh Batra, national leader, automotive sector, EY. “You can’t get people to buy EVs unless there is an option for them to charge. In terms of policy, this is an important step because on product side, EVs are commercially available now.

The new guidelines aim to “proactively support creation of EV charging infrastructure in the initial phase and eventually create market for EV charging business and encourage preparedness of electrical distribution system to adopt EV charging infrastructure".

In August, Mint reported that the government might provide a 1,000 crore subsidy to build a nationwide charging infrastructure as part of FAME 2. The ministry in its document did not refer to any subsidy figure or a target for setting up charging stations.

The rollout of the scheme will take place in two phases. In the first phase, spanning up to three years, all nine mega cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Surat and Pune—and expressways and important highways connected to them will be covered. This includes corridors such as the Mumbai-Pune expressway, Ahmedabad-Vadodara, Delhi-Agra Yamuna Expressway, Delhi-Jaipur, Bengaluru-Mysuru and Bengaluru-Chennai.

In Phase 2, which will roll out over the following three-five years, will cover state capitals, Union territory headquarters and highways connected to them. The ministry will designate a central nodal agency to facilitate this rollout, while states can have their own nodal agencies, most likely the state discom.

The guidelines recommend that any person seeking to set up a PCS be provided connectivity on priority by the discom licensee in the area. The person may also obtain electricity from any generation firm through open access.

The guidelines also lay out technical requirements for a PCS: it should have an exclusive transformer with all related substation equipment including safety appliance, a 33/11KV line/cables with associated equipment including as needed for line termination/metering, adequate space for charging and entry/exit of vehicles, one or more electric kiosk/boards with installation of all the charger models and a tie-up with at least one online network service provider to enable advance remote/online booking of charging slots by EV owners. If a fast charging facility is also planned, the PCS should also have appropriate liquid-cooled cables for on-board charging of fluid-cooled batteries and appropriate climate control equipment for fast charging of batteries to be used for swapping. These conditions do not apply to private charging points owned by individuals or captive charging infrastructure set up by a firm for its own fleet of EVs.

CEA should maintain an online database of all PCSes set up in the country. The guidelines recommend setting up at least one PCS in a grid of 3km or one every 25km on both sides of roads and highways. There should be at least one fast charging station every 100km for long-range EVs or heavy-duty EVs such as trucks and buses. Existing fuel retail outlets run by public sector oil marketing firms (Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd) can be given priority status to set up PCSes on their premises.

“The question is, though, of who is going to invest," Batra said. “How will we make it commercially viable for investors to set this up, because there are several operational elements such as land availability, is this going to be financially viable as a business, etc? Delhi has a policy, which allows a charging station at every 3km, but charging stations need more land than a petrol pump. Even a fast charge takes about 20 minutes and there has to be space for vehicles to be parked as demand grows. What sort of incentive are we offering to individuals, who want to set up a charging station so that it can be supported as an independent business?"

“We’re still at an early stage of evolution from the existing ecosystem to the new ecosystem," he added.

India wants its automobile industry to progressively shift to electric vehicles as part of its strategy to fulfil its climate change commitments. As part of the commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015, India has to cut its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030.

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