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Technology to be biggest enabler of Battery Swapping Policy in India | Opinion

The proposed Battery Swapping policy (draft) by the Government of India aims to build a robust ecosystem around the ‘Battery as a service (BaaS)’ model to drive EV adoption. Venkat Rajaraman – CEO at Cygni Energy discusses how Battery Swapping Policy can largely benefit from cutting-edge technology.

The new-age technologies are penetrating across industries to address the root challenges and eliminate bottlenecks. In terms of EV adoption in India, high upfront costs, range anxiety, long charging hours and battery-related safety issues have been the hindrances in a swift transformation to electric. Successful and widespread implementation of the BaaS model will address concerns like long charging hours and battery maintenance, eliminating anxiety for seamless operations and bringing down the overall upfront cost. The Indian Government, no doubt, has been the biggest supporter of EVs. Be it schemes or policies like FAME, PLI, and now the recently announced draft Battery Swapping Policy, it is ensuring the journey towards an electric future is a smooth, speedy switch.

Battery Swapping is gaining ground fast and technology is its biggest enabler. The article outlines how cutting edge technology can be harnessed to enable battery swapping business models at scale.

Smart Battery Management System & IoT-enabled monitoring

The policy has specifically outlined that all swappable batteries be enabled with smart features such as data monitoring. Such Smart Battery Management System (BMS) is indeed a very positive development as this will ensure the quality, longevity, safety and utility of the battery in EV application. The country recently has taken significant steps towards self-reliance by enhancing battery cell manufacturing capabilities through the ACC PLI scheme. However, there is a long distance to cover. The battery cell manufacturing industry is still reliant on China and other countries for components which are mostly not designed for Indian conditions. As India’s EV transformation has to continue at a rapid pace, having a Smart BMS in place will greatly aid to improve battery safety and for a better user experience. Also, this will boost the confidence of the users by making their EV experience easier, smooth and safe.

– The policy has mandated that all batteries coming under this scheme will have to be IoT-enabled. The Indian roads are currently experiencing large scale EV deployment across segments like 2Ws and 3Ws. Putting emphasis on real-time monitoring, data collection and safety will help in gaining insights on critical components and usage under Indian conditions.

– Furthermore, an appropriate BMS will protect the battery from extreme conditions such as thermal runaways and will inform the user on battery usage and notify in case of any battery abuse condition. Presently, around 80% of BMS are imported and Battery Swapping Policy will open new avenues for domestic BMS development and related platform development for revenue generation and finding new opportunities.

Unique Identification Number for traceability and information

– The policy requires all battery manufacturers to create a Unique Identification Number (UIN) for each battery, similar to how solar panel manufacturers were required to do. This number will consist of all information on the battery’s capacity, voltage and other parameters.

– Also, to implement traceability across the battery lifecycle, the manufacturers will assign this UIN at the manufacturing stage for tracking and monitoring of batteries. The swapping operators will have to store the battery usage history and be required to share battery performance data. This is a huge step in the right direction.

These features will catapult technology development and deployment for a robust EV ecosystem. Moreover, the stored data on battery usage will also allow for data sharing agreements between stakeholders such as battery swapping operators, EV OEM, battery manufacturers and EV owners and will open ways for multiple business models to emerge.

The most important aspect of this policy is that it puts the battery manufacturers and battery operators in the front and centre of the entire scheme. In order to move away from the current subsidy paradigm, the policy puts battery operators at the centre of the policy, acting as a single point of contact, and promises to make them subsidy recipients as well. With technology taking centre stage, the setting up of an EV swapping infrastructure has become way easier and the results will be visible on ground soon. Going forward, large scale tech adoption in crucial policies like battery swapping will not just accelerate EV adoption but will unlock new roads of investments and growth.

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