A study by Grant Thornton Bharat & FICCI suggests India will need around 4 lakh charging stations for more than 20 lakh electric vehicles that could be on roads by 2026. As of December 2021, there were only 1028 public electric vehicle chargers functioning throughout the country, energy minister RK Singh wrote in response to a Lok Sabha question.
But there are thousands more planned, to be installed by governments and private companies.
At present, the distribution of existing chargers is very unequal, with the majority being in the big cities.
The Government has increased its focus initially on 9 big cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat & Pune). After the saturation of EV infrastructure in these cities, the government will expand the coverage to other cities in a phased manner.
Experts say, in India, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model seems a viable option where government engages & encourages private players to supply charging infrastructure and install public charging infrastructure in the rural and semi-urban locations and also compensates it for any shortfall in the revenues for a certain time period.
There is a requirement to shift from grid-based charging stations to standalone off-grid solutions for charging. The key to resolving this problem is the use of abundant renewable energy sources such as solar energy.
Government-run Convergence Energy Services (CESL) is planning a countrywide network of solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles that will help them become totally green by avoiding the use of polluting thermal energy.
The company is in talks with state governments to set up green charging stations based on solar power.
The Centre for Study of Science, Technology & Policy (CSTEP) also conducted a project with Bangalore Electricity Supply Co. (BESCOM) to demonstrate the use of solar energy for public EV charging.
In India, 94% of electric passenger vehicles are charged at home, so users may think they don't really need a public charging station right now.
Studies have found that limited public charging & long charging times are among the top barriers to increasing EV adoption.
The lack of organized parking spaces in India is also a big hindrance to setting up public chargers.
The biggest challenge of setting up public chargers at present is viability. The cost of setting up is very high, and use is very low.
Demand for EVs will increase depending on how fast the EV charging infrastructure can be built.
In the latest Finance Budget, India gave more importance to battery swapping for EVs rather than charging stations. Considering the constraints for space in urban areas for setting up charging stations at scale, a battery-swapping strategy is being chalked out. Swapping a drained battery out of an EV and replacing it with a charged one, as opposed to charging the existing battery is a less time-consuming and inexpensive practice that is a success in China but hasn’t gained widespread acceptance in other countries.
We will see the development of next-generation electric vehicles, EV charging stations, and supporting components, as well as new collaborations among charging-technology providers, OEMs, operators, utilities, software providers, and players in renewable energy.