Special tariffs for charging electric vehicles only way to promote them: Tata Power-DDL’s Praveer Sinha


New Delhi: Charging stations are critical to the mass adoption of electric vehicles, and given the government’s commitment to encouraging electric and hybrid vehicles, various companies are stepping forward. One of them is Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, which is planning to invest Rs100 crore to set up 1,000 charging stations across Delhi. In an interview, the company’s chief executive officer and managing director Praveer Sinha speaks of the challenges and requirements of setting up charging stations. Edited excerpts:

How much do you plan to invest in charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in Delhi?

We plan to set up 1,000 electric charging stations in Delhi in the next five years with an investment of Rs100 crore. We are in talks with various stake holders like the municipal corporation, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), shopping malls, office complexes, etc. to set up electric charging stations on their premises. The revenue model for setting up facilities on their land is still not decided, but we are ready to experiment with any kind of arrangement such as partnerships, paying rent, etc. Parking lots are one of the best places to provide e-vehicle charging facility.

Tata Power has already set up five electric vehicle charging stations in Delhi. How is the response?

Charging of electric vehicles is still classified as non-domestic; that is, it is considered as commercial use and therefore, commercial power rates of Rs8 and Rs9 for non-peak and peak hours, respectively are applicable. This is one of the reasons why response has not been too good.

We are now in talks with Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and the governments that they should come up with a special price mechanism for charging of electric vehicles so that it becomes reasonable to the consumers. We have been promised that they would look into the matter. Unless the prices are economical for charging of electric two wheelers and e-rickshaws, they won’t come to the charging station.

What kind of price slab can encourage consumers to charge their e-vehicles at charging stations?

There can be two sets of pricing. For peak hours, which are during day time, a price of Rs6-7 can attract consumers while in off-peak time, that is during night, Rs4-5 can be charged. Nominal pricing can help to contain power thefts for charging vehicles and is the only way to attract public to adopt e-vehicles.

What kind of eco-system is required for setting up charging stations for electric vehicles?

Setting up charging stations is not a problem. You can start mobilizing in six months and put up huge number of charging stations in a year. It’s not simply charging of vehicle. The challenge is you need to tie up that much quantity of electricity. Just to give an example, a fast charging vehicle would require 8-20 kilowatt (kW) of power, while a slower one would require 2-3kW. Now say if a fast charging vehicle requires 10kW of power and 500 vehicles need to be charged, you need to have 5 megawatt (MW) of power.

I need to tie up transformers and electric equipment to supply this much power at one station. Similarly, if there is a bus depot, a typical bus would require 100 kW of connection and if 100 buses need to be charged, you would require 10 MW of power.

You need to create total electric vehicle eco-system. You cannot have it in silos. You need to create electric back bone and infrastructure to create charging infrastructure. It also involves developing software that gives data on charging and goes into the system and tells how much vehicle has been charged, and how much time will it take to charge the balance at what cost and till what distance this charged vehicle will go. This all needs to be available on consumers’ mobile through a mobile app.