Stakeholders in EV Charging ecosystem – primary interests and challenges

EV Charging Infrastructure concerns multiple stakeholders with varied interests. This article talks about the primary interests and motivations of these stakeholders in the EV charging ecosystem.

Power Distribution Companies (DISCOMs)

Role – To provide electricity for EV charging for home charging and destination charging facilities.

power distribution

Opportunity – Earn more revenue as a new set of customers is added to the basket. EVs also present a grid optimization opportunity for DISCOMs by incentivising charging behavior to fill the valleys in load demand.

ChallengesTo induct this new consumer in an efficient manner while ensuring grid reliability. DISCOMs need to measure the impact of EV charging on the grid, assess additional power demand during peak and non-peak hours, and make the most of existing capabilities while avoiding the need for expensive infrastructure upgradation unless necessary. 

 A recent AEEE report notes that addition to the peak loads due to EV charging will have a bigger impact on the utilities than total load increment. The report also makes the following  observation: 

“Presently, the network upgradation plan is developed based on the peak load met during the year. However, there are typically very few peak hours throughout the year. Many distribution transformers (DTs) have a load of 25-30% of their capacity the majority of the time during the year. Overloading of DTs (as much as 120%) only happens a few hours per year. In such a scenario, EV charging may add up to the peak load resulting in further addition of DT and adding more to the underutilised capacity.”

Thus, injudicious expansion of the infrastructure will end up introducing more inefficiencies to the system. Unnecessary grid capacity expansion needs to be avoided. This is extremely critical to advance EV adoption as expenses incurred in capacity expansion might be passed on to the end consumer, weakening electric vehicles’ proposition of lower lifetime costs.

Recommended: This article by Chandana Sasidharan talks about the preparedness required at the DISCOM’s end to accommodate EV charging needs.

Charging Solution Providers

Charge Point Operators (CPOs) oversee EV charging operations at a destination charging facility. Charging Solution providers are responsible for offering complete charging solutions to CPOs at Public charging stations (PCS), captive charging facilities, and even premises like malls, office spaces, gyms, public parkings and housing complexes etc.

Destination charging at public places is set to grow

EV charging solutions is a nascent industry in India with a huge market opportunity. According to a businesswire report, the electric vehicle charging infrastructure market in India is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of over 40% during the forecast period 2019–2025. In accordance with MoHUA’s Feb 2019 Amendments in Model Building Bye-Laws (MBBL – 2016), state EV policies are introducing changes in building bye-laws to mandate 20% parking space for EVs in all new residential and commercial projects.

A complete charging solution includes interfaces for charge point managers to control and supervise the operations, and for EV owners to locate and reserve charging slots. Charging Management Systems (CMS) should also facilitate grid communication and offer Smart Charging abilities to help realise energy savings.

Smart charging enables the operators to control how much current a particular vehicle or a set of vehicles can draw at any given time, and these settings can depend on multiple factors such as pricing signals from DISCOM, current infrastructure capacity, number of charging points at the premises and total number of vehicles plugged in simultaneously. The charing networks also need the freedom to choose charging hardware vendors for their solutions.

Site Managers

Like mentioned earlier, charging sites include the premises where charging facilities are being provided. e.g. A shopping complex might want to provide charging facility to its customers but wouldn’t want to incur sizeable electricity expenses or upgrade its electrical system unless absolutely necessary. This can be done by putting restrictions on max power drawn for EV charging and distribute the available power to simultaneously charge multiple vehicles using load balancing techniques.

End Customers 

End customers for EV charging facilities can be either individual EV owners or institutional customers like fleet operators. Individual EV owners require both household charging as well as access to public charging facilities, whereas fleet operators usually opt for captive charging hubs.

Fleet Operators – The fleet operators (across vehicle segments) would like to manage their charging expenses while keeping up with the schedules set by the dynamics of their business. For example, an intra-city bus operator would like to set the charging schedule on the basis of bus timetable, charging capacity of the installed charging points, and per unit electricity rates. They will also need to ability to prioritise charging for a particular vehicle over others.

Household Charging – If incentivised, an EV owner would be happy putting her vehicle to charge at home during night time when the load on the grid is low, as long as she can have her EV ready for next morning commute. Tools to communicate with the grid can help EV owners minimize the cost of charging and at the same time support the grid.

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