Karnataka Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy

The Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage policy announced by the state government of Karnataka is well ahead of even the Indian government’s proposed Electric Vehicle policy. The opening lines of the policy declare that Government of Karnataka wishes to make Bengaluru, the Electric Vehicle (EV) capital of India.

Check the link to know more about India’s Electric Vehicle Vision

The statement from the Government of Karnataka looks ambitious, but considering what Bengaluru, the silicon valley of India, has managed to achieve with the IT sector and subsequently turn into a start-up capital, the statement could in fact have more substance than what meets the eye. In the past few years, there has been an upspring of start-ups not only in the IT space but also in alternate energy and electric vehicles in the region.

A key characteristic feature of this policy happens to be the fact it tries to integrate energy storage manufacturing which is key to fostering an electric vehicle industry. The proposed policy as expected is filled with incentives and concession packages to lure investments. The policy has a validity of 5 years or until a new policy is announced.

The policy document intends to align with the national objective of having an all-electric vehicle fleet by 2030. In addition to reducing the dependency on crude oil consumption, where in 80% of India s oil requirement is imported and about 1/3rd of it is used in the transportation sector; the policy also emphasizes to reduce emissions in the sector by promoting EVs, which is laudable. Incidentally there is a mention of recent World Health Organization report that says India is home to 10 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

Highlights of the policy

Listen to the conversation to know more.

  • A key major objective of the policy is attracting investments of around 31,000 Crore (about 5Bn$) and employ 55,000 people in the sector.
  • EV manufacturing zones and clusters with complete infrastructural facilities is envisaged like in similar automobile manufacturing.
  • Three wheelers, cab aggregators, corporate fleets and school buses/vans are to be encouraged to shift to electric transportation. Already, non-transport private vehicles are exempt from paying taxes under the Karnataka motor vehicles act. Also, the national committee is evaluating the proposal to use standard batteries for public vehicles like 3 wheeler rickshaws. These are likely to aid this objective.
  • Similarly public fleet operators will introduce 1000 EV buses during the policy period with Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation proposed to have EV fleet services within city by 2018.
  • An emphasis on EVs has been made for goods transportation within city limits operated by logistics firms. Logistics firms operating with e-commerce platforms are likely to benefit.
  • Battery manufacturing will be facilitated by the Karnataka Udyog Mitra who will operate an online clearance system with special incentives for modular lithium ion batteries.
  • The policy proposes to adopt BIS standards for setting up charging infrastructure with proposal to amend any existing bylaws to setup charging stations in public buildings.
  • The government will encourage industry and academia to undertake research in this space and setup charging infrastructure that adheres to ARAI/BIS standards.
  • A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) involving different government agencies in Bangalore will be mooted to setup charging infrastructure in the city.
  • A special tariff is likely to be proposed for EV charging in the state including proposals to permit energy resale at charging stations. This is an interesting proposal considering there are regulatory hurdles before any such proposal can go through even at the central level.
  • Fast charging stations and battery swapping networks at every 50km interval to be established on prominent highways of the state including Bangalore-Mysore is also proposed.
  • Public bus and metro stations to have EV charging infrastructure.
  • The policy also intends to encourage lease or pay-per-use business models for battery swapping stations. A few companies in the state are already evaluating the business proposition of swappable batteries.
  • An end of life battery use for solar PV applications is also envisaged including a safe disposal mechanism in Public-Private Partnership model.
  • On the manufacturing side for batteries the state has declared a target of inviting investments up to the tune of 5GWh, which is expected to generate a net employment of over 10,000.
  • Special incentives for skill development in battery manufacturing is also proposed.
    • An Investment Promotion Subsidy (IPS) in the range of 20-25% of total fixed assets shall be provided to manufacturers of EV components.
    • The Investment Promotion Subsidy will be available over and above any subsidy offered by Government of India (GoI).
    • Total exemption on payment of stamp duty, concession on land registration charges, reimbursement of land conversion fee and exemption from tax on electricity tariff are other incentives proposed.
  • A special package of incentives and concessions will be considered for Ultra Mega and Super Mega EV enterprises/Lithium ion battery manufacturers catering to exclusively for EV market based on investment and employment potential.
  • All project proposals and incentives will be subject to the approval of technical committee. A high level inter departmental review committee will also be constituted to regularly review the progress of developments under this policy.
  • Incentives in the form of capital subsidy up to the tune of 25% of capital investment for the first 50-100 fast charging, battery-swapping stations depending on the type of EV served.

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Cover image :Tesla Energy

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EESL: The procurer for masses

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) could come across as yet another government initiative that is unrelenting in its pursuit of energy efficiency and EESL has managed to do that in the past few years but through a radical step. The drop in LED bulb prices (7W/9W) in the last few years is hard to be missed although the reason behind the drop goes unnoticed at times.  After setting a precedence or claiming to have set one, EESL has geared up on the next big vision of its former Minister Piyush Goyal, ‘Electrification of Indian transport by 2030’.

UJALA

Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme previously called Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) has been funded by KfW, AFD and ADB in procuring LEDs for large scale distribution through local utilities across states. As of Sept. 2017 it claims to have distributed over 260million LEDs leading to a cost saving of over 13,000 Cr per year with an avoided peak demand of over 7GW (Dashboard).

How did it happen?

The price of LEDs have come down significantly, a 7W LED in 2014 costed INR 310 which in 2017 is less than INR 70 and even the retail prices for 9W LED is less than INR 100. The quality of the bulbs is always debated but EESL offers free replacement for the faulty ones (3yr window) and claims to have a fault rate of less than 1%. A few experts however feel the lumens from EESL LED is low.  Although the procurement practices have been questioned by the opposition, EESL claims to have endorsements from its funding agencies for its procurement which is completely transparent through a eprocurement platform(Read an IEA report on the same).

 

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Large scale public procurement has been a success across countries as the bulk procurement through demand aggregation has proved to decrease cost by close to 20%. In EESL case, the LED drive has achieved over 70% cost reduction.

Make in India

One of the key successes of the EESL has been the emphasis on Make in India. It has transformed the Indian LED industry that was manufacturing 1-2 Lakh LEDs a month to now produce 3-4 Crore LEDs/month in a span of just three years. As on today, all LEDs procured for domestic lighting, public street lighting procured by EESL are manufactured in India.

Electric Vehicles

EESL taking up the procurement of Electric Vehicles (EV) and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) is not without a reason. The cost of EVs, batteries are high and there is negligible manufacturing in the country in this sector. The subsidies through FAME have been flowing for the last few years but the supply and demand has not scaled up. If large scale procurement of EVs in China especially in public transportation is anything to go by, India can hope to replicate it or kick start EV and battery manufacturing in India.

EESL1

In between LED procurement and the foray into EVs, EESL has tested waters and found success in lighting/appliances procurement (tube lights, fans and ACs), it has also procured energy efficient solar pumps in large scale and distributed to state DISCOMs. It has also bought solar modules in bulk quantities and supplied to projects undertaken by public sector corporations. Building on its success, it has also floated tenders for procurement of LEDs for UK and Malaysia right out of India since 2017. Just a few weeks before the release of tenders for EV, EEESL also floated a tender for procurement of 5 million smart meters for utilities in  Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, two states with the largest power theft/loss.

The national EV policy is yet to be finalised and so is the specifications for charging infrastructure, ‘Bharat Charger‘; EESL however has indicated its ambitious procurement target early on giving the industry a big wake up call to what is likely to happen. The 10,000 sedan programme aims to procure 10,000 vehicles in the medium term with the first order accounting for 1000 of them to be supplied in Delhi/NCR. Similarly 400 EV charging stations are to be setup in Delhi/NCR region out of the 4000 targeted between 2017-2019. Currently, the specifications of the sedan match Mahindra eVerito the lone EV sedan manufactured in India. In addition to these, EESL has also floated an expression of interest inviting industry to procure and lease E-auto rickshaws through app based model without batteries. It hopes to separate batteries out of these vehicles to keep the costs low ( public buses to follow in the long run). It will in all likelihood setup an energy business offering swappable batteries for e-rickshaws and then public buses (?).

The tenders are yet to be awarded but even at the nascent stage the intent of EESL is quite clear. The short successful track record will give companies a confidence in its procurement policies. Since the potential off-takers in this business have already expressed interest, the plan should see a smooth roll out of EVs by the start of 2018. However, the success of this mission of EESL should be gauged on how much of local manufacturing it is able to generate for EV, EVSE and batteries in India. Nevertheless, EESL through its vision (Ministry of Power’s) and action is turning out to be the ‘The procurer for masses’. Only time will tell if they can sustain the same momentum with a new minister at the helm.

About EESL

EESL was incorporated as. Joint Venture of 4 CPSUs of Ministry of Power NTPC, PGCIL, REC and PFC and is under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, Government of India since 2015.

Energy as a Service

In the last few weeks two big announcements caught my attention. Incidentally both of them happened to be Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations. The first one garnered more attention because the union Minister for Roads inaugurated what was claimed to be ‘ The first public EV charging station’ in India (Nagpur). Following that, India’s largest power generating company NTPC announced its foray into EV charging stations.  Interestingly these are not the first EV charging stations, they are quite a few and in fact a website hosts a list of all such stations. Most of them are Mahindra showrooms considering they have the only 2 EV models manufactured in India.

Are we in a hurry or already late?- The missing gaps

The development in this space are encouraging but is this model sustainable or is it just a stop-gap arrangement tiding the wave of excitement in this sector? Before concluding on that here are a few open points:

  • The Electricity Act (2003) doesn’t permit sale of electricity unless you are registered as a distribution licensee. In this case, the energy resale to charge batteries is categorically not allowed.
  • Standards for charging stations are yet to be formalised. Public charging stations have to be compatible with a host of vehicles and chargers. Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) has only recently finalised the standards for AC charging while the DC charging standards are yet to be announced.
  • Chargers

    The range of standards: Cty-IEA EV outlook 2017

  • Bharat Charger: The charger for India, a DHI initiative under the vision to get an all-electric fleet by 2030 has proposed a standard for charger. The initiative is laudable considering the grand vision but we are yet to have a final specification on that.

Energy as a Service (EaaS)

In spite of having a few gaps in the system both at the regulatory and technical front it is quite interesting to see the so called ‘public EV charging stations’ springing up in the country. As in any nascent market development it could be due to either of the two reasons; there is a significant demand for these or the businesses’ are keen to be front-runners in this space. I believe it is more of the latter and a little probe into these businesses have confirmed the same. While the developed world is trying to create a market for these, India has already begun what will be called ‘Energy as a Service (EaaS)’ business model.

evHow else does one account the amount of electricity dispensed at these stations to charge the batteries without being termed a ‘resale’? Only the ones being setup by Tata Power Delhi Distribution could escape being termed a resale. (However the 5 stations setup by them offers charging free of cost to Mahindra vehicles). The charging stations at Mahindra showrooms are as expected, ‘free’ with the costs in built in the sale. Similarly the charging station at Nagpur is an exclusive model developed in partnership with OLA.

The EV charging stations although not a perfect model for EaaS, is a good starting point. In due course, the charging stations would start differentiating in terms of the source of power, charging frequencies, time of charging etc. which would provide customers a wide range of choice, something we have been used too in other new-age services. However, in order to create a sustainable business model, the charging stations have be to be compliant within the regulatory and technical frameworks in due course.