All the FAQs about setting up Electric Vehicle charging stations designed for public use.
India is looking to scale up its public charging infrastructure, in a bid to fast track its journey towards carbon neutrality. With the gauntlet thrown towards the general public, the field is ripe for private players to step up and take charge of the massive urban overhaul required to allow faster adoption of electric vehicles.
As per the guidelines set by the government, it is compulsory to set an EV charging station at every 3 sq km area in cities and every 25km on highways. For its part, the central government, while prioritising the electrification of petrol pumps, has already removed a few obstacles for those seeking to set up charging stations, and as a consequence, generate employment while helping bridge the infrastructural gaps.
According to an official communique issued by the Ministry of Power, “the setting-up of Public Charging Stations in India shall be a de-licensed activity”. The document states that “any individual/entity is free to set-up public charging stations, provided that such stations meet the technical as well as performance standards and protocols” laid down by the Ministry of Power and Central Electricity Authority from time to time. So, just what are these requirements and how does one go about setting up a Public Charging Station (PCS)?
What are the basic infrastructural requirements?
According to the guidelines set by the Ministry of Power (MoP) back in 2018, the minimum requirements for a Public Charging Infrastructure (PCI) include “an exclusive transformer with all related substation equipment” which includes plug-in nozzles, 33/11 KV cables (for metering and termination purposes) and also, circuit breakers the form of safety equipment. Each public charger shall have a minimum of one electric kiosk featuring multiple charging points. In addition to the bare minimum requirement, multiple kiosks and charging points can be installed.
Fast charging stations, set up for long-range EVs or heavy-duty EVs like buses need to have two chargers of 100 kW each, with only one connector gun attached to each. It must be specified that charging facilities for heavy-duty EVs should be located near bus depots. Private bus fleet/car fleet owners are free to set up a charging station as per their individual requirements, as long as the station isn’t open to public use. In fact, the minimum infrastructure requirements do not apply to any private charging points for individual EV owners.
If setting up a fast charger, the PCS is also required to have liquid-cooled cables to charge fluid-cooled batteries. Although the guidelines mention “adequate space for charging and entry/exit of vehicles”, they haven’t specified just what the spatial definition of adequate is.
What type of charger is to be used?
There are essentially three types of chargers. Type 1 and Type 2, use alternating current or A/C power, and as such can be used for slow or moderate charging, which can be used for electric cars, two-wheelers and three-wheelers. A Type 2 charger is compatible with both AC and DC charging systems and CCS plugs. Given its wide range of applications and relatively low cost, a Type 2 A/C and D/C charger is the most economically feasible option for those looking to build a public charging ecosystem. The third type, a DC charger is the most expensive of the lot, and is more practical for highways, as it has a higher turnover rate, i.e, it charges cars faster, and therefore accommodates a higher number of cars per day.
India’s EV landscape is still in its nascent stage, and a standard type of charging plug is yet to be determined. However, the Ministry of Power has mentioned that a PCS catering to four-wheelers must have any one or more chargers which follow the Combined Charging System (min 50Kw fast-charging system common in Europe, with most European manufacturers adhering to this standard) or a Bharat DC-001 type charger (minimum 15kw for slow, A/C charging). A CCS or Combined Charging System combines Type 1 AC charging and Type 2 DC charging. It’s also designed to handle a power input of up to 350 Kw of power.
What is the procedure one has to follow?
A Public Charging Station can only be operational after a clearance certificate has been issued by the electrical inspector designated by the local distribution company. According to a revised set of guidelines published by the Ministry of Power, in 2019, the Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) shall be type tested by an agency or lab accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). EVSE, as specified by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, is a small wall-mounted box that supplies electric energy for recharging of batteries, while also allowing a safety lock-out feature that can be customised to include software for remote monitoring, integration of payment gateways etc. It’s also essential that the owner of the station tie up with an online network service provider to enable online booking of charging slots by EV owners. Following this, one must obtain sanction for the load requirement from the local electricity distribution company and deposit a security amount for the same. The DISCOM will determine whether an additional transformer needs to be installed to handle the additional load. It’s unclear at this point, what the charges for it will be, or whether they are to be borne by the operator.
According to the MoP’s guidelines, Central Electricity Authority shall create and maintain a national online database of all the Public Charging Stations through the distribution company in that respective area. EV tariff is needed at the selected location, along with a No Objection Certificate by the landowner, should it be installed on rented land. All equipment must be ISO-certified and must adhere to minimum safety requirements. Although the official guidelines don’t specify just what basic amenities must be installed on-site, it can be safely assumed that the outpost should have a technician, an operator, washrooms and drinking water outlets.
According to the revised set of guidelines by the MoP, “each state government shall nominate a Nodal Agency” for the setting up of its charging infrastructure. The document all but confirms that this nodal agency will be the state’s electricity distribution company (DISCOM), while leaving some room for the possibility that Nodal authority can be granted to an Urban Local Body or a Public Sector Undertaking. Either way, the Nodal authority is to provide electricity access on priority to interested parties, if India’s goal of setting up 5 million stations by 2030.
How much space are you required to allocate for an EV charging station?
Although the government is yet to specify the mandatory spatial requirements, it’s generally agreed upon that a minimum space of 300 to 500 sq ft is required so one can park 2-3 cars. While this rules out converting the front area of a department store, it’s a good opportunity for mall owners to utilise vast parking spaces. A small kiosk, which can only accommodate a scooter or two is unlikely to get you a desirable RoI, compared to the initial investment that goes into such an undertaking.
How much does it cost to install a public EV charging station in India?
The estimated cost for the installation of a fast-charging station is far higher than an A/C charging station. The cost of electricity, civil work, manpower, maintenance and the charging equipment must all be factored into the total capital investment, which according to Volttic EV Charging Solutions, adds up to Rs 16.5 lakh for a Bharat DC01 Type 2 charging station (for CCS-type charger, the costs are higher, with the highest going up to Rs 40 lakh. With land leasing rates included, this would also mean a 5-year running cost of Rs 31 lakh. With 8 hours of usage per day and a profit margin of Rs 3.5 per unit of electricity, an operator can recover the hardware costs in 7 years, according to EV reporter. With 16 hours of usage, the RoI can be achieved in the fourth year.
According to the revised guidelines issued by the MoP, the tariff for supply of electricity to EV public charging station shall be determined by the appropriate commision in accordance with the Tariff Policy issued under section 3 of Electricity Act 2003 which essentially states that the Central Government may, from time to time, in consultation with the State Governments and the Authority, revise, the National Electricity Policy and tariff policy. Basically, any authority or local distribution company must obtain the approval of the Central govt and revise the tariff policy only if it’s in accordance with the National Electricity Plan and the National Electricity Policy.
As for service charges, the state nodal agency shall fix the ceiling of service charge to be charged by the PCS.
Can you install a DC fast charger at home?
Fast Chargers are expensive to install. While your local Distribution Company might allow access to fast charging at home, it must be noted that an EV’s battery can only take a limited number of fast-charging cycles before it starts to damage the battery. If a fixed charging spot and overnight charging are a possibility, a domestic fast-charging station isn’t necessary.
Is it a worthwhile investment?
Only if you have another primary source of income. While EVs are undoubtedly the future, and their usage will no doubt become more rampant, it would take some time for your RoI’s to turn your ledgers green. Offer advertisement space, refreshments etc, and you’re likely to turn a profit much quicker.
The cost of running, which includes paying salaries on time, maintaining the equipment might seem daunting at first, but a long term vision along with the capacity to invest should hold you in good stead till a time when it undoubtedly will become a profitable venture.