Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Realty firms and construction giants can shape the future of electric mobility in India


By Krishna K. Jasti

Realty firms and construction companies in India can define the future of electric mobility in the country. They can play a crucial role in building a robust EV charging infrastructure.

Despite the many challenges of being a large economy and hosting 17% of the world population, India has been at the forefront of its sustainability commitments, especially in the case of countering climate change and global warming. A major thrust has been put on shifting India’s energy dependency to cleaner fuels or renewable sources. Consequently, while around 59% of power generation is still coal-based, the country has taken major strides in the production of electricity through renewable sources which today forms around 38% of generated power.

As per the Climate Transparency Report 2020, India ranks 10th in Climate Change Performance Index for having reduced its emissions by 35% from the 2005 level. The report remarks that India happens to be the only G20 country to be doing its “fair share” to reduce emissions. Appreciating its effort of reducing carbon emissions, the International Energy Association’s India Energy Outlook 2021 report states that India has done more than its share of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

The Indian Government hasn’t stopped at a good start. It has committed to the target of net-zero emissions by 2070. The Government has gone ahead with forming International collaborations and has initiated Green Grid Initiative with the United Kingdom and International Solar Alliance with France.

At the national level, India is bringing a major shift in the mobility sector. It is pursuing the transition to electric mobility with intent and purpose. Despite being amongst the least motorized nations, India’s transport sector consumes 18% of total energy with emissions estimated to be 142 million tonnes of CO2. Road transport accounts for almost 86% of emissions. In the decades to come, as the economy matures, India will have more energy demand. Therefore, shifting to electric mobility becomes imperative today to minimize the dependency on fossil fuels.

Through the FAME I and II initiative, the Indian Government has boosted the manufacturing of electric vehicles (EV) and EV batteries. It has taken numerous steps to incentivize and popularize the adoption of EVs amongst people in order to create demand. The EV sector is in its nascent stage, and the early players are engaged in establishing the sector.

Hence, the sector has several initial challenges to overcome and therefore it is showing certain growing pains. Some of the challenges include the availability of raw materials, establishing a supply chain and distribution network, consumer anxieties pertaining to the range and charging, and so on.

However, the absence of adequate charging infrastructure needed to drive electric mobility is a major concern for the industry. While EVs cost less, are safer and are better performance-wise, they may need frequent charging over long distances and travels. Going by the demand for EVs, a FICCI study has projected that by 2026, India needs to have over 4 lakh charging stations.

Furthermore, the current petrol pump or gas station model may not be suitable for EVs. Charging an electric vehicle takes much longer than fuelling conventional vehicles. The current format would lead to long lines at charging stations and make the charging process difficult. To address this Government will be bringing a battery swapping model which is a welcoming step for the sector. However, it will only address a part of the problem.

The Government has been working towards ramping up the charging infrastructure. In January 2022, the Ministry of Power had launched the “Revised Consolidated Guidelines & Standards for Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles”, which allowed EV owners to charge EVs at home and offices using their electrical connections. The guidelines also initiated a revenue-sharing model for land use and for making charging stations financially viable.

Guidelines for other models for charging stations such as the open-access model are being laid. The guidelines were further revised recently allowing for several other improvements. One of the crucial changes that the Government is bringing about is allowing the “housing societies, malls, office complexes, restaurants, hotels, etc. to install PCS [public charging stations] for charging of vehicles including charging of visitor’s vehicles permitted to come in its premises.”

It is this step that can prove to be a landmark move for the sector by bringing in the role of realty firms and construction giants to shape the future of electric mobility in India. This unique and innovative solution can not only address the EV charging infrastructure problem but also revolutionize the entire sector by making energy-as-a-service mainstream. The move will minimize the need for petrol pump-like EV charging stations, as it will decentralize EV charging points across the real estate geography. Except for when a vehicle is used for commuting, the majority of the time it is parked around residences, office premises, parking stations, commercial or public places, and so on.

Integrating charging stations and installing them across real estate will address the huge problem. It is a huge opportunity for the real estate and construction sector to partner with charging infrastructure providing companies and the Government and install charging stations across their projects.

A pilot project of the kind is already been running, where an EV charging ecosystem developer has joined hands with real estate player Hiranandani. In this project, 10 operational AC and DC fast charging points for EVs have been installed. The tariff for AC charging is set as Rs 12/ KWh (Kilowatt per hour) and Rs 16/ KWh for DC fast charging.

The installations of charging stations can be integrated with green buildings or green real estate projects. A hybrid power distribution system is being implemented by digitalising grids and discoms, the real estate partners can leverage solar power to keep the running cost of the charging station low, especially in places that receive much sunshine. The players in the real estate and construction sector can play a vital role in furthering the sustainable development of the nation, benefit the environment and the economy.

Also read: Why electric vehicle industry looking at major disruption?

(Krishna K. Jasti is CEO and co-founder, Evre.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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