New Delhi: State-controlled NTPC Ltd is exploring the possibility of securing a national licence for setting up charging stations for electric vehicles across states.

Currently under The Electricity Act, 2003, a distribution licence is required to distribute power from the respective state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs).

India’s largest power generation utility is seeking a pan-India licence as it will help scale up its EV charging business rapidly in the face of emerging competition.

The EV business assumes importance for NTPC due to its lucrative market potential of around 90 billion units of power. With the current installed power generation capacity and projects under construction expected to meet India’s electricity demand till 2026, NTPC is scouting for new growth areas.

“We are trying to get a common licence. Electricity can be sold by a discom, a licencee or a franchisee. All three models are there. It is a licenced activity. We will try to work it out if it is possible to have one licence for the whole country. We are looking for a country-wide licensing. If that happens we will be able to set up the charging stations very quickly," said a senior NTPC executive, requesting anonymity.

Mint reported on 10 March about how NTPC was exploring an EV business to help create the demand for electricity generated by its plants and keep pace with the fast-changing power sector.

“This is a very good, growing business as the demand for electricity will be created. It has a very good synergy with us because we can start with the charging part of the business quickly. Later on we can get into battery and other associated businesses," added the NTPC executive cited above.

This comes in the backdrop of ambitious government plans for a mass- scale shift to electric vehicles by 2030 so that every vehicle on Indian roads by then—both personal and commercial—is powered by electricity.

Any shift to electric vehicles will also help cut both air pollution and fuel imports.

“What we have planned is to have battery banks wherein we will be swapping batteries. Basically it will be an energy business for us with charging from the renewable energy sources," said another NTPC executive who also did not wish to be identified.

NTPC plans to set up battery swapping stations wherein recharged batteries will be swapped with the batteries drained of charge.

The state-owned utility is working on a plan to bring down the cost of setting up these charging stations by half to around Rs1 lakh each.

In addition, NTPC wants to contribute significantly to India’s plans to set up 100GW of solar power capacity by 2022.

The utility wants to supply electricity from 10,000 MW of solar power capacity that it is setting up on its own and buy 15,000 MW on behalf of the ministry of new and renewable energy.

An NTPC spokesperson in an emailed response confirmed the development, saying, “Yes, NTPC is exploring various options in the area of EV charging station business."

Experts believe that such a national licence for EV charging stations will be a shot in the arm for NTPC.

“The idea of a comprehensive national retail supply licence is going to be big a booster for NTPC’s business plans. It requires comprehensive review of existing laws and regulations given the concurrent nature, content and carriage segregation issues and developing licence provisions for a specific activity such as charging EVs," said Sambitosh Mohapatra, partner, energy and utilities at PwC India.