The electric vehicle (EV) market in India is charging ahead at a rapid pace. With rising awareness about the environmental benefits of EVs and favourable government policies, EV sales have seen exponential growth over the last few years. This green transition towards sustainable mobility has also brought into focus the need to develop EV charging infrastructure that aligns with India's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. Hence, renewable energy-based charging stations will be pivotal to reducing the carbon footprint of EVs and realising India's vision for cleaner transportation.
The Government of India has set ambitious plans for EV adoption, targeting 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial vehicles, and 80% of two and three-wheelers to go electric by 2030. To enable this EV revolution, India must simultaneously invest in clean and smart charging solutions powered by renewable sources like solar and wind. The Central Government's guidelines mandate that all public charging stations to source at least half their energy needs from renewables. Further, innovative business models like battery swapping are also gaining ground, where swap stations use solar power and battery storage for charging.
Need for EVs
The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in India is critical for multiple reasons. Reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels is a strategic priority, given that India imports over 80% of its fossil fuel needs currently. Widespread EV adoption can minimise expenditure on oil imports and insulate the economy from global oil price volatility. Additionally, EVs powered by renewable energy can significantly curb vehicular emissions that are major contributors to urban air pollution and associated many health hazards. Studies indicate EVs can lower particulate matter and NOx emissions substantially compared to conventional petrol/diesel vehicles. Transitioning to EVs as part of the green transition is also vital for India to reduce its carbon footprint and meet its climate action goals, considering transportation accounts for around 10% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, EVs promote energy security by enabling better integration of renewable energy into electricity grids, both centralised and decentralised.
There are also long-term economic benefits of EV adoption stemming from lifetime cost savings for consumers as well as job creation and manufacturing boost if India emerges as a global EV production hub. EVs can also enable India to build next-generation sustainable mobility infrastructure attuned to vehicle-grid integration, smart charging solutions and artificial intelligence. Taken together, EVs are indispensable for India across dimensions of energy security, environmental sustainability and socio-economic development.
EV landscape in India
India will need over 400,000 public charging stations if it wants to achieve its EV target by 2026. Installing such a massive network presents an unparalleled opportunity to integrate green energy from the outset. Solar-based charging stations are now being deployed along highways and in cities like Delhi and Bangalore. India also plans to set up renewable charging hubs at 25 solar parks across the country. Domestic EV manufacturers such as Tata and Ola are partnering with state utilities to expand renewable charging reach.
EV sales in India stood at 156,000 units in 2021-22, a 168% jump from 2020-21. This is reflective of the remarkable growth trajectory of EVs in the country. However, for this momentum to be sustained, building green and sustainable charging infrastructure across cities is indispensable. Without adequate charging facilities, consumer interest in purchasing EVs may drop significantly. The Indian government has undertaken multiple initiatives to power the green transition in EV charging. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and EV (FAME) scheme offers subsidies for installing charging stations. State governments are also rolling out financial incentives and preferential tariffs for renewable energy-based charging stations.
Public and private entities have forged successful partnerships under FAME and other policies to set up green charging plazas using solar energy. A few private players have announced plans to establish over 250 solar-based EV charging stations in Delhi by 2023.
The future outlook of the EV industry
The transition to green energy-based charging delivers significant environmental benefits. Widespread adoption of renewable charging will be crucial for India to meet its COP26 pledge of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070 given that it's the first time India has set a net-zero target.
However, there are challenges in scaling up green EV infrastructure. The upfront costs of solar power integration remain high. There are technological barriers to deploying smart grid-connected charging stations. Lack of standards and interoperability issues also need resolution. But promising solutions are emerging – innovative business models, digital payments integration, battery swapping, and cheaper batteries can make green charging infrastructure more viable and affordable.
India has made headway in seeding an EV revolution. However, achieving a sustainable mobility ecosystem calls for urgently scaling up green charging infrastructure backed by renewable energy. Technology improvements, public-private collaborations and innovative financing models can aid this green transition. With strong government resolve and stakeholder participation across the value chain, India is poised to lead the way in building EV infrastructure that is future-ready and environmentally conscious.