Guest Blog by Nitish Arora
Given the dire new climate report, transitioning away from fossil-fuel driven internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is essential to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The Indian government recently announced a major vehicle scrappage policy to phase out highly polluting vehicles, and could do even more: a growing list of countries are planning to ban the sale of new ICE vehicles. With the alarming rate of global warming already underway in India, and cities across India already struggle with poor air quality, transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) is critical, but it is only possible with an aggressive scale-up of charging infrastructure to accompany the shift.
EVs, largely electric two-wheelers, have steadily gained traction in India over the last few years. However, the uptake of EVs has been slower than expected. This is largely due to range anxiety—drivers’ concern about running out of power before being able to charge, particularly in areas with limited charging infrastructure. This worry is not without cause: India currently has about 1,800 charging stations, but will need an estimated 2.9 million public charging stations to meet its 2030 EV targets.
To encourage drivers to switch to EVs, siting charging stations, i.e. finding the optimal spot within a set location for the charger, is essential. EV infrastructure siting ensures that a charger will be accessible and utilized. This is especially important given the high upfront costs to build charging infrastructure. Siting analyses vary in method and technical sophistication, but they all work to provide decision makers and stakeholders with an understanding of where and how many charging stations will be required to serve EV drivers within a given region.
The first step in siting is to choose the right type of location, which will dictate the type of charging (fast or slow) and number of chargers to install. Recently, Niti Aayog and partners had come up with the “Handbook for EV charging infrastructure implementation” which identifies three principles for selecting locations for EV charging: (i) accessibility, (ii) utilization and (iii) cost of installing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).
NRDC and partners are developing a methodology for optimally siting charging infrastructure. In addition to examining best practices globally, we are engaging with charge point operators, power companies/utilities, land owning agencies, and other relevant stakeholders. Preliminary analysis reveals that sites should be prioritized based on accessibility, power availability, distance from the nearest power source, civil infrastructure requirements, and footfall. NRDC and partners will release a new report outlining the complete stepwise approach based on our analysis in the coming weeks.
A well-planned public charging infrastructure network is needed to support a robust Indian EV market. Accessible charging stations will encourage EV adoption and relieve drivers of range anxiety. And actions to reduce polluting vehicular emissions will achieve major wins for public health, for the environment, and for India’s economy.
Nitish Arora is an Electric Mobility and Clean Energy Expert working as a consultant with NRDC's India Program.