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Making highways EV friendly: Strengthening the e-mobility ecosystem in India

| | Updated on: Dec 17, 2021
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India has a lot to gain from the widespread adoption of e-mobility

India’s auto sector contributes 7.1 per cent to the overall nation’s GDP and 49 per cent of the manufacturing GDP, with an annual turnover of ₹7.5-lakh crore and export of ₹ 3.5-lakh crore. Driving towards a sustainable driving model, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari added that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is developing electric vehicle charging infrastructure along the highways to promote the use of electric vehicles.

With the world moving on from conventional fuels to alternative sources of energy for powering transport, electric vehicles are emerging as a popular choice. The country has now joined hands together and pledged for a carbon-neutral India by 2070 and a strong e-mobility ecosystem would be a key player to help achieve this goal.

India has a lot to gain from the widespread adoption of e-mobility. Under the Make In India programme, e-vehicles manufacturing and its associated components are expected to increase the share of manufacturing in India’s GDP to 25 per cent by 2022. However, one of the biggest hurdles to electric vehicle ownership is the limited charging infrastructure, which must be immediately dealt with.

FAME

To address this, the government has been aggressively promoting the manufacture and usage of electric vehicles across the country. They have created momentum through its Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles, called FAME, schemes that encourage, and in some segments mandates the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), with a goal of reaching 30 per cent EV penetration by 2030.

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Under the FAME-1 scheme stipulated by the Ministry of Heavy Industries in India, an ambitious plan around multiple solar energy-based electric vehicle charging stations (SEVCs) has been set up on the Delhi-Chandigarh highway by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).

Going a step further towards its dream of electric mobility, NHAI has also recently set an ambitious goal for developing its EV charging infrastructure across highways. E-highways are a part of Narendra Modi-led the government’s efforts to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles, which will help cut fuel consumption and will be non-polluting. The plan of setting up of electric vehicle-charging infrastructure every 40-60 km is the latest in line with many initiatives that the government has taken to boost the adoption of electric vehicles and make highways EV friendly.

Catering to the issue of intra-state travels, food courts will be among one of the centre points for EV charging stations besides the highways. The main focus should be enabling all food courts to have minimum charging points while depending on their parking holding capacity.

‘Highway Nest Mini’

In addition, NHAI has facilities named “Highway Nest Mini” on highways which aims to ensure a hassle-free journey for travellers and provides the basic requirement while travelling. As being one of the most approached areas by travellers, the initiative presents to be the ideal location for adding fast charging stations under FAME II Scheme and enabling easy access. Adding to the above-mentioned outlets of EV charging spots, fuel outlets of Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) could well evolve as fast charging points, plans for which have already been initiated.

Looking at the high demand for EV charging facilities, it would be ideal to develop mega charging plaza catering as a one-stop solution for providing charging to 50-60 EVs simultaneously, along with other amenities. The source for these mega plaza could be from Solar along with battery storage facilities for uninterrupted services and ensuring the reduction of carbon footprints.

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Another option is to look for developing mobile charging units by making EVs compatible for dispensing power to other EVs to provide emergency services for charging. Furthermore, electrifying heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses demand attention on a huge scale. We can address this by providing wireless charging and flash charging at the designated locations for commercial EVs.

Apart from this, developing service stops is also necessary as it will help boost users’ confidence in driving EVs for long distances while also encouraging EV adoption in India. While the European Union is currently viewing the prospects of widespread wireless charging, South Korea has already adopted this path and are successfully operating without any hassle. Adopting these global best practices will be an added advantage to strengthen our ecosystem.

The author is Head - EV Charging Infrastructure, Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL)

Published on December 17, 2021

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