The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is seeking a pan India license to construct and set up electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across India.
As of now, under The Electricity Act of 2003, a distribution licensee from each respective state electricity regulatory commissions (SERCs) is required to distribute power. According to the act, the sale of electric power is an activity that can only be performed by licensed distribution companies (DISCOMs), and their licensees or franchisees.
INDIACSR quoted an NTPC official as saying, “The company is trying to get a common license. Electricity can be sold by a DISCOM, a licensee, or a franchisee. All three models are there.”
“We will try to work it out if it is possible to have one license for the whole country. We are looking for a country-wide licensing. If and when that happens, we will be able to set up the charging stations very quickly,” added the NTPC official.
With current installed power generation capacity and projects under construction expected to meet India’s electricity demand until 2026, NTPC is now scouting for new areas of growth. The EV business is important for NTPC due to its lucrative market potential for around 90 billion units of power.
The NTPC is entering the EV business to help create demand for the electricity generated by its power projects and to keep pace with the fast-changing power sector. Any shift to electric vehicles would also help cut both air pollution and fuel imports.
The NTPC plans to set up battery swapping stations where batteries drained of charge can be swapped for charged batteries. The company is currently working on a plan to reduce the cost of setting up these charging stations by half to around ₹100,000 (~$1,538) each.
The Government of India is currently targeting sales of 6-7 million new hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP). The government has also launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles (FAME) program with an initial outlay of ₹750 million (~$11.56 million) to provide a major push for the early adoption and the creation of a market for both hybrid and electric vehicles.
Other recent deals highlight other government efforts now underway: Global energy player Fortum recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NBCC, a Government of India Navratna Enterprise, to develop EV charging infrastructure throughout India and power conglomerate ABB India recently submitted a bid to provide 4,500 charging stations in response to a government tender.
In the light of these developments, a pan India license could establish NTPC as the frontrunner in India’s EV charging market. The NTPC has set up two EV charging stations at its offices in Noida and Delhi and plans to develop 20 more at different locations.
Mercom recently reported on the subject in an exclusive article entitled ‘Electric Vehicles – The Next Big Cleantech Opportunity in India’. In it, Raj Prabhu, chief executive officer and co-founder of Mercom Capital Group, explained that, “After a few years of growth, the solar and wind sectors are going through some challenges and everyone wants to know where the next big opportunity is in India’s clean energy market. The obvious answer is battery storage, but EVs have the potential to be massive.”
Image credit: NTPC