NITI Aayog has issued the draft battery swapping policy addressing the key technical, regulatory, institutional, and financing challenges to help India develop battery-swapping ecosystems to unlock the large-scale adoption of battery-swapping.
The policy aims to promote the adoption of battery swapping technology implemented via Battery as a Service (BaaS) business model, ensuring lower upfront costs, minimal downtime, and lower space requirements.
Stakeholders must submit their comments by June 5, 2022.
Battery-swapping caters to the charging requirements of battery-powered electric vehicles (EV) that involves replacing discharged batteries or partially charged batteries of EVs with charged batteries which can be conveniently carried out manually or with mechanical intervention.
There are currently a limited number of battery-swapping service providers engaging with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other stakeholders to develop ecosystems of swapping services. The government announced plans to introduce a Battery Swapping Policy in its Budget 2022-23.
The draft policy promotes battery swapping using advanced chemistry cell batteries to decouple battery costs from the upfront costs of purchasing EVs. It also seeks to set technical standards that would enable the interoperability of components within a battery swapping ecosystem. Without hindering market-led innovation, the draft seeks to use regulatory levers to de-risk the battery swapping ecosystem and unlock access to competitive financing.
The policy hopes to encourage partnerships among battery providers, OEMs, and other partners such as financial institutions. It intends to encourage the formation of ecosystems capable of delivering integrated services to end-users and promoting better lifecycle management of batteries, including maximizing the use of batteries during their usable lifetime and end-of-life battery recycling.
The policy will only support batteries using advanced chemistry cells with equivalent or superior performance to EV batteries supported under the second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME-II) Program. Battery providers must demonstrate end-to-end compatibility between batteries and other components of the swapping ecosystem.
Batteries covered under this policy must be enabled with a battery management system (BMS). Manufacturers must ensure that appropriate BMS is in place to protect the battery from conditions such as thermal runaway. Swappable batteries will be equipped with advanced features like the internet of things (IoT) -based battery monitoring systems, remote monitoring and immobilization capabilities, and other required control features to ensure battery safety and security.
Unique identification number
To implement unique traceability across the battery lifecycle, a unique identification number (UIN) must be assigned at the manufacturing stage for tracking and monitoring EV batteries. Various tracking and tracking solutions are used in different industry sectors, and an appropriate system may be applied to EV batteries that are tamper-proof and allow centralized monitoring. The authorities will develop the standard or generic methodology and a detailed definition of the UIN system for EV batteries.
The OEMs will map the required technical data of the battery with the UIN of the battery pack at the manufacturing stage. The battery-swapping operator must store the battery’s usage history and required performance data with UIN during EV application. Data must be maintained to facilitate the traceability of EV batteries during the entire lifecycle.
Each battery-swapping station will be assigned a UIN number.
Testing and certification
Batteries must be tested and certified as per AIS 156 (2020) and AIS 038 Rev 2 (2020) standards for the safety of traction battery packs, as well as additional tests that may be prescribed for swappable batteries, which are subject to multiple coupling and decoupling processes at the connectors.
BMS of the battery must be self-certified and open for testing to check its combability with various systems and capability to meet safety requirements. To ensure a high level of protection at the electrical interface, a rigorous testing protocol must be adopted to avoid any dielectric breakdown, arc phenomenon, or any unwanted temperature rise at the electrical interface.
The draft policy proposes that demand-side incentives offered under existing or new policies for EV purchase can be made available to EVs with swappable batteries. The size of the incentive could be determined based on the kWh rating of the battery and compatible EV. It is also proposed that the ministry or department concerned work out a seamless mechanism for the disbursement of subsidies.
Battery providers will receive the subsidy, provided the battery swapping ecosystem that they represent satisfies the technical and operational requirements. Subsidies may be linked to the UIN of EVs and batteries to ensure no double-dipping.
The policy may specify a minimum contract duration for the contracts to be signed between the EV users and battery providers to ensure that battery providers continue to provide battery swapping services after qualifying for any subsidies.
The policy may also set eligibility criteria based on performance for EVs and swappable batteries, aligned with requirements under FAME II, to ensure only high-quality EVs and swappable batteries get the incentives.
Re-use and recycling ecosystem
To address the safety, reusability, and sustainability of the business models in the second-life application of the used EV batteries, standards for the re-use and re-purposing of the end-of-first-life batteries from EV applications must be developed by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will be responsible for implementing battery swapping networks across the country.
Transport departments and state transport authorities will be responsible for easing registration processes for vehicles sold without batteries or vehicles with battery swapping functionality.
Municipal corporations will be responsible for planning, zoning permissions, and land allocation for battery swapping stations.
Energy departments and electricity distribution companies will be responsible for supplying power to battery swapping stations and any policy support concerning power connections.
State electricity regulatory commissions will be responsible for concessional power tariffs, open access, and other regulatory incentives or support for battery swapping services.
As per a recent report, ‘Banking on Electric Vehicles in India’ by NITI Aayog, the inclusion of EVs in Reserve Bank of India’s priority sector lending guidelines could help unlock EV financing of up to ₹3.7 trillion (~$49.27 billion) by 2030.
In September, The Union Government had notified the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) program for automobile and auto components. It is estimated that the PLI program will lead to investments of over ₹425 billion (~$5.72 billion) in five years and incremental production of over ₹2.3 trillion (~$ 31 billion). The program is expected to create over 750,000 jobs.
Arjun Joshi is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, he worked as a technical writer for enterprise resource software companies based in India and abroad. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Psychology, and Optional English from Garden City University, Bangalore. More articles from Arjun Joshi.