A BYD Co. electric vehicle charging plug sits on display at the Auto Shanghai 2017 vehicle show in Shanghai, China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

India Is Said to Mull Power Law Change to Boost EV Stations

(Bloomberg) -- India’s power ministry is considering ending the lock on electricity sales by distributors as one way to speed up growth in vehicle charging stations, according to a ministry official with knowledge of the plan.

The approach would require amending the nation’s Electricity Act, which only allows distributors to sell power, including for electric-vehicle charging stations, according to the official, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Two committees have been set up to examine the policy issues and technical specifications of the options under consideration, said the official.

Other options include the companies, known as discoms, selling electricity directly to charging-station operators or creating their own charging-station franchises.

Power ministry spokesman Rajesh Malhotra declined to comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitions to ensure mostly electric vehicles on the roads by 2030 could be hampered by the lack of charging stations. India had only about 350 public EV chargers compared with around 57,000 petrol stations, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a July report. In contrast, China had around 215,000 charging points installed at the end of 2016, it said.

India’s Forum of Regulators, comprising the heads of the central and state electricity regulatory boards, has said discoms should look upon EVs as a new source of revenue. 

The restriction on the sale of power is a “big challenge” because charging stations can’t currently be built in parking lots or gas stations, state-backed Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. Managing Director Saurabh Kumar said last month. EESL issued an initial tender to procure 10,000 EVs to replace government vehicles operating in and around New Delhi. It also awarded bids to set up charging stations.

Exicom Tele-Systems Ltd. won an EESL bid to supply 125 chargers. Other companies including Norwegian utility Fortum OYJ and India’s Tata Power Co. also have plans to set up charging infrastructure in India.

Charging stations, especially quick-charge facilities, may overburden parts of the electricity network, according to Anish De, head of infrastructure strategy and operations at KPMG in India.

“This will become a serious challenge as the EV stock increases and the networks may require a substantial revamp, especially in congested urban areas,” De said. “This may pose challenges and slow down the propagation of charging stations.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.