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The company's role in India would include building awareness and ensure assurance of the services associated with eMobility

Interviews & Talks
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In Conversation with Mr. Awadhesh Jha, Vice President – Charge & Drive & Sustainability, Fortum India Pvt. Ltd. 

Please share brief insights about the pilot in NBCC premises in New Delhi. What efforts were required to set up such a challenging system?

Fortum Oyj, a leading Finnish clean energy company in which Government of Finland owns 50.8%shares, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NBCC (India) Limited for establishing a cooperative institutional relationship for developing charging infrastructure across India in allupcoming NBCC construction projects. This MOU covers all major activities in the value chain from planning and designing to making investment and operating the infrastructure using cloud based system.

As a first step, Fortum has installed one 22 KW AC Charger on pilot basis in New Mo Bagharea,which would be operated using Fortum’s cloud-based system. As far as we know, this is the first smartcharger in India equipped with OCPP 1.5 and GPRS communication system enabling it to communicate with remote server. This is quite user friendly to consumer as they can operate this charger using RFID or Mobile App on Fortum cloud system which makes it quite safe as charger cannot be started without proper authorization.

Installation of such charger is not very complex, but the preparatory work requires more time particularly finding suitable location. We are very much thankful to NBCC officials who provided all support that helped us install the charger in quick time. 

Do you think India would be able to achieve target set by Indian government of only e-vehicles by 2030. How is Fortum working towards it?

Adoption of electric vehicle is required to provide a healthy environment to present population and more to our future generation. Residents of our cities particularly metros are exposed to very poor air quality where tailpipe emission from ICE Vehicles is one of the contributor. With adoption of EVs this emission is completely removed, thus people will be living in a healthy environment. Further, with more and more renewable energy, which is variable in nature, fed in the grid, use of EVs shall provide the flexible load to balance the system. If we see India’s vision to achieve all electric fleet by 2030 from this perspective, it becomes obvious that we have no choice but to achieve this.

Given its commitment to reduce carbon intensity under Paris Agreement, it is our responsibility now to embrace the technology and join the change. This will necessitate the combined efforts of the administration, the private sector, and the public. Taking a cue from success of solar PV capacity addition during last 3-4 years, I am confident that we can achieve this target.

Being a pioneer in electric vehicle charging solution provider in the Nordic countries, Fortum looks at establishing itself as a leading service provider to e-vehicles. Starting with the pilot launch in New Delhi, Fortum aims at setting up about 150-160 chargers over a period of next 12-18 months across different cities to give momentum to e-vehicle adoption. The company also aims at building awareness and ensure assurance of the services associated with eMobility in order to increase acceptability of e-vehicles in India. Besides, we offer our proven Nordic expertise in operating smart charger network built by Distribution Companies or any other entity.

What efforts are required by the government to push this initiative?

Government of India has already been taking various initiatives. An enabling incentive scheme in the form of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME), to promote clean fuel technology vehicles is in place. The government is also set to roll out a national policy for EVs by December this year which is expected to give desired push towards EVs. Policy makers’ sincerity for leap frogging to pure electric vehicles from ICE platform gets amplified when Battery EVs were put under 12% GST bracket. A lot of existing government fleet are also getting replaced by e-vehicles. All these steps will foster early adoption of EVs in India. Although there are a handful of charging stations in India as of now, and which is a challenge for vehicle owners to undertake long travels, it is expected through Public Private Partnership, a considerable number of charging network will be laid down in the country so as to cater to the growing need.

However, we need to fast track EV adoption. To facilitate faster adoption, Government may consider few out of box measures like pre-equipping the upcoming buildings with necessary charging infrastructure by bringing in amendment in Building Code shall be one. Also, asking Oil Marketing companies to install progressively increasing number of charging station in their fuel stations with the objective of converting these fuel stations to Electric Fuel station in future will go a long way in having adequate charging points. As RPOs did catapult solar adoption by all discoms in short period of time, quota of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) for car OEMs could bring in volume and options to consumers which will also propel use of EVs. After all we cannot achieve 100% from Zero in one year. It has to be progressive. Waiver on road tax, GST and allowing certain capital subsidy would act as extra benefits and would make the environment more conducive for early adoption of EVs. Moreover, treating charging infrastructure as commercial business instead of regulated electricity infrastructure will attract private investment in charging infrastructure space which is a priori for mass adoption of EVs.

What are the benefits of e-mobility for electricity ecosystem

With more e-vehicles expected to be on Indian roads now than ever before, one may take into consideration the immense benefits it brings to the consumers and to its larger stakeholder groups. Cleaner air and less pollution leading to living a healthy life.; and Support to the market for renewable energy sources (RES), - with more and more solar and wind energy production energy storage and load balancing will impact our everyday lives – EV offers new opportunities for grid-connected storage and bringing prosumers into the electricity market. These are few benefits among many more.

How ready India’s infrastructure is to embrace eMobility?

Three major stakeholders influence the evolvement of EVs in any country, and more interestingly, each one of these is dependent on others. Development of eMobility will directly concern automobile manufacturers, battery manufacturers, and charging infrastructure providers. Given the limited consumption of e-vehicles in India currently, the infrastructure for the same is also at a very nascent stage. The lack of sufficient infrastructure could be the most common reason for a range of concerns, directly affecting the consumer behavior and their purchase pattern. This is affecting potential EV sales in India. However, from the operators’ point of view, it is difficult to invest in charging infrastructure without an existing demand for charging services.
However, with the Government’s continuous push towards eMobility, it is pertinent that the government readies its charging infrastructure in place well before electric vehicles commercially hit the Indian roads.

Anything else you would like to add for our readers?

Fortum has been a pioneer in electric vehicle charging and has a network of 1600 smart chargers, out of which 500 DC/AC chargers in the Nordic countries. The company’s innovative Charge & Drive system aims to respond to an increasing global demand in eMobility space, through providing world-class cloud based solutions. Charge & Drive Cloud provides an intuitive end user interface and a comprehensive system which support Charge Point Operators in the remote management of Charging Stations. Fortum’s own Charge & Drive network successfully operates across Norway, Sweden and Finland.

The e-vehicle market is at a nascent stage in India, however, the segment is gaining significant attention of both domestic and foreign investors. The company's role in India would include building awareness and ensure assurance of the services associated with eMobility. For EV to be acceptable in India, consumers need to be assured of availability of charging stations like fuel stations for ICE vehicles. If adequate and appropriate charging points are available across cities as well as along highways, it would alienate the range concerns of e-vehicle users.

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