Providing EV charging facilities in multi-story housing complexes | Challenges and solutions

In accordance with MoHUA’s Feb 2019 Amendments in Model Building Bye-Laws 2016, state EV policies are introducing changes to mandate 20% parking space for EVs in all new residential and commercial projects.

We caught up with the team at E-fill, (a Delhi based EV charging solutions company that aims to install 400 overnight charging points in more than 100 housing societies in Delhi NCR by May 2021) to understand the challenges with providing home charging facilities to the vast Indian population living in multi-story apartments.

Many electric 2Ws now come with portable batteries that can be easily removed from the vehicle and carried home for charging. However, when it comes to cars, a suitable home charging facility is necessary to boost private EV adoption.

Challenges with respect to providing EV charging facilities to people residing in multi-story housing apartments

1. In many multi-story dwellings, residents do not own fixed parking spaces. Hence they can’t install charging stations on their own.

2. For shared public charging in the building, the upfront charger and installation cost would generally be provided from the housing society fund. However, at this stage, very few residents would own an EV and others remain sceptical about such installations. 

3. Further, the cost of installing an overnight charger for standalone houses is almost fixed with little to no variable cost. But in the case of multi-story buildings, the installation cost may vary a lot.

An electrician needs to run wires from the electrical panel to the Public EV charge point to supply electricity to the EVSE. The installation process can be straightforward if the panel is close to the EVSE site. However, as the length between the panel and the EVSE site increases, additional costs can arise from materials, labour, and construction activities such as concrete trenching.

What kind of concerns do the building association members generally have with the installation of charging facilities?

Many housing society associations at apartment complexes are reluctant to cooperate when residents want to install a charging point. Some of these concerns include challenges in coordinating with multiple parties, the allocation of limited power supply capacity within the complex, installation costs, challenges with the creation of dedicated parking spots for EVs, the assignment of rights, and perceived safety concerns with electricity use.

Problems with the owner tenant model: Oftentimes owners in the apartment & multi-story buildings are not the actual residents. The flats are resided by tenants and they are unlikely to spend on immobile equipment that they will likely leave behind as they move on.

Main factors to be considered in site analysis before designing a charging solution for a building

1. Estimating the number of current and future potential users.

2. Availability of Parking space.

3. Costs associated with the installation which includes: Charging Station equipment, Running wire and conduit, Panel up-gradation (whether required or not), or installation of separate sub-panel.

What kind of chargers are most appropriate for installation in society premises?

Most appropriate installation is slow AC charger which can charge 2-3 EVs simultaneously overnight.

How do other EV markets cater to this challenge? How does the Indian market differ from these markets?

Comparing with other countries:

China currently has the most extensive infrastructure network for EV charging in the world. State-owned utilities play a key role in the initial construction of the majority of China’s public charging infrastructure. Private corporations have also been significant investors in recent years and account for a larger share of new installations. In some cases, state-owned utilities provide support for companies that implement charging infrastructure.

Almost 40 per cent of the chargers are public. The vehicle-to-charging port ratio in China has increased such that on average, there is now one charger (including public and apartment complexes) for every 3.5 electric vehicles, with some jurisdictions reaching a one-to-one vehicle-to-charger ratio.

For the US, the driver of EV penetration is private vehicles. The majority of EV charging sites are residential since home charging is more straightforward in the US. To expand the EV market, states and cities are adopting policies to expand public charging access, workplace charging, and private access in apartment complexes.

Currently, India has not standardized requirements around private or public charging infrastructure and instead allowed numerous charging connector standards to be utilized by automakers depending on their preference. This means that charging stations may provide one, some, or all connector options. Standardising will help installation at a faster rate.

Going forward, India may need to consider similar cooperative solutions, as China is finding, to facilitate the necessary coordination between property owners of multi-dwelling units, EV owners, and infrastructure providers.

Views expressed are of E-fill team. They can be reached at mayank@efill.co.in.

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