Sustainability by Sweden: Workshop on grid security, reliability and EV charging

In August 2019, the Swedish Energy Agency, Business Sweden and India Smart Grid Forum organised a workshop on the future of smart grid and electric vehicles (EV) infrastructure under the Sustainability by Sweden platform.

Over 40 participants from both public and private sector participated in the workshop which took place in Delhi.

The workshop focused on finding collaboration opportunities related to power quality improvements across transmission and distribution grids and rapid yet profitable expansion of EV charging infrastructure, through new insights on technology, enabling policy framework, and the role of various stakeholders.

Among the main themes discussed were:

  1. Improvement of quality and reliability of electricity supply from the grid.
  2. Creation of commercially viable business models which facilitate fast-tracking of EV infrastructure.

Theme 1: Grid security and reliability

Background: Upgrading and expansion of the Indian grid began 17 years ago. In the last two years 26.3 million household villages have been electrified and currently 99.5 percent of the country is connected to the grid. Many people in remote areas were paying high rates for access to traditional sources of energy, making it feasible to employ alternative energy sources to power these areas. However, the grid today is very new and there is a slow but steady transformation within utilities towards a service-based offering.

The workshop outlined the following points:

• Load defections
– Increasing trend of people moving away from the grid
– Some distribution companies have placed restrictions on PV applications.

• Quality and consistency of electricity supply and services

• Security and maintaining grid integrity
– Data analytics and AI
– Logical failover behaviour when connectivity is limited
– Vendor identification and certification.

• Micro-grids emerging as focus

• Finding a new business model for distribution companies
– Cash flow and deteriorating revenues at utilities.

• Roll-out of smart meters
– Interoperability of local applications
– Reliability and control of back end
– Remote programming and automatic updating of devices.

Theme 2: EV charging infrastructure

Background: Initially, 1,000 EV charging stations are earmarked for deployment by the Government of India, which has issued an expression of interest. This is part of the Ministry of Heavy Industries FAME II objectives.

The workshop outlined the following points:

• Feasibility of adopting a free market vs. regulated approach to roll-out of EV infrastructure in India
– Currently low levels of EV infrastructure with fair usage
– Market size today and growth potential over next 5 years.

• Focus by government of India within public transport for E-mobility
– Impact on distribution companies if EV infrastructure costs were to be socialised
– Implication of government subsidies on EV infrastructure
– GST and duties within the EV market and how it is currently being applied.

• Technical challenges in developing an EV ecosystem and identifying solutions to be adopted
– Example: Licensing companies to trade electricity as part of the infrastructure compliance process
– Developing a set of guidelines and standards for EV chargers.

• Role of private sector participation in EV
– Maturity of players within the EV infrastructure
– The role collaboration by companies plays in potentially scaling up installation of EV charging stations across states
– Build own operate transfer (BOOT) as option for EV infra roll-out over three years, with knowledge and technical transfer included
– Asset light as a business model approach to rolling out EV infrastructure at distribution companies.

Next steps in the process

  • September 2019: joint discussion at EU-SMART grid workshop.
  • September to October 2019: finalizing the paper work, both with DST, with GITA and internally.
  • November 2019: Distribution Utility Meet (DUM) 2019 and Delegation under India Sweden Innovation Accelerator to India.
  • December 2019: Announcement of collaboration.
  • March 2020: Proposed delegation to ISUW, including WS at Tata Smart Grid Lab. Three to four days to understand the Indian landscape in the sector and to find possible partners.