Fast Charging’s Four ‘E’ clectic ‘V’oices
Whether it’s electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), charging stations are a must to operate. Few drivers prefer to charge their vehicles at home and few at fleet facilities. Charging stations at workplaces and public destinations may help bolster market acceptance by offering more flexible charging opportunities at commonly visited locations. But, the time taking process of charging is a major obstacle for EV users. Rapid charging or fast charging can resolve such issues by providing a short period similar to gasoline refuelling of conventional vehicles. Providing instant energy to electric vehicles is not easy because more electricity means more heat. The combination is worst, which can come out as a disastrous explosion. While highlighting the same topic Nitisha had a conversation with Pankaj Sharma, Co-Founder, Log9 Materials; Prateek Saxena, CEO, Hygge Energy; Vikas Aggarwal, Founder & MD, Ipower Batteries Pvt Ltd and Visakh Sasikumar, Co-Founder & CEO, Fyn Mobility.
Fast Charging Technology and its Demand in 2023
Fast Charging technology in the last couple of years has emerged as a potent alternative to addressing the key challenges reeling in the industry, specifically range anxiety. The most crucial aspect for the end customers today is vehicle uptime, which fast charging technologies have been able to solve. With limited charging stations (slow chargers), ensuring optimum utilization of the chargers becomes a challenge. Having extensive fast charging technology across the country will solve this issue, also mitigating the blockage of the real estate. The technology will also promise higher revenue for Charge Point Operators (CPOs) and resolve the reluctance of customers to spend hours at the current slow charging stations, contrary to the quick service at fuel stations in the case of the ICE counterparts of EVs. To meet the increasing demand for a holistic EV ecosystem, we need more private and public partnerships along with substantial investments into fast charging technology, ultimately expanding the charging infrastructure in India, says Pankaj.
While India gets up to speed to go electric and starts filling up the existing demands for EV logistics fleets raised by Delivery agglomerates to meet the government’s goals for a green India, we need to start looking at an EV ecosystem that will be sustainable for the long run, feels Visakh.
Merely replacing IC engines with EVs is not the right way to go about this change. With innovative technologies in the EV sector we need to change the traditional methods of logistics to optimize for the Future where EVs are the primary transport. Fast charging enables this approach by allowing each EV to be utilized to its maximum potential. The 15 min full charge technology allows EV fleet owners to charge their EVs and send them back into the field as opposed to the 5-hour charging. With growing demand for Evs in Logistics fleets and limited infrastructure for them to be charged & parked, fast charging is a game changer in optimizing the use of these vehicles. We are able to charge and cross utilize these EVs and get higher revenues per EV as well. This is beneficial not only for us but also for our Clients who can get competitive advantage in terms of low rentals, adds Visakh.
The Indian EV charging market is expected to grow at 46.5 percent CAGR till 2030. However, Niti Aayog reported that India needs at least 3.9 million EV charging stations by 2030 in order to support the predicted EV sales, and this number is much higher than what current policies plan for. There is an urgent need to build
EV infrastructure in the country to not only support predicted EV sales, but further encourage EV adoption in light of climate disasters increasing day by day. As per our experience, contrary to popular belief, having fast chargers
with a rating higher than 50 kW at public charging stations is in fact counterproductive to the proliferation of EV chargers. Our proof-of concept with IndianOil confirmed that 15 to 50 kW fast DC EV chargers are the most suitable for public charging, shares Prateek.
Charging time is the biggest constraint in the EV industry. Batteries take time to fully charge. Most of the chargers that are provided to the EV users are slow chargers, they take 8-9 hours to fully charge the electric vehicles. If we see, our mind is trained to get the fuel filled in the tank in minutes, hours are too late. Therefore, I am fully confident that the demand for fast EV charging solutions will only grow. No one, would like to wait for 4-5 hours to get their EV fully charged, hence fast charging technologies are most welcome, says Visakh.
Role of Fast Charging in EV Adoption
Pankaj says, for a population relying on the convenience of driving into any fuel station across the country and driving out within a couple of minutes, the sheer thought of spending hours charging becomes a key deterrent towards buying EVs. Fast charging technologies solve this challenge and thus can act as an enabler towards faster EV adoption. When referring to the B2B sector, where uptime is of sheer importance, fast charging does not just solve the issues of range anxiety but also ensures maximum uptime that further translates to the increasing number of deliveries and hence promises higher revenue for the business. Speaking of the electric vehicle deployed for mid and last-mile delivery services, where every minute counts, fast charging unlocks the possibilities of “Opportunity Charging”, i.e. the ability to top up the EV battery during the non-functional hours of the vehicle such as breaks, loading & unloading points, etc. It eliminates the existing paradigms of having to spend hours charging the battery from 0 to 100% in one go, thus increasing the uptime tremendously.
For customers owning EVs for personal use, fast charging once again saves a lot of quality time for individuals and enables them to top up their vehicles during idle hours. Adoption of EVs will increase with growth of EV infrastructure. However, the EV charging business in India is not profitable. Therefore, from the perspective of EV charging station owners, adoption will increase only when the EV charging business becomes profitable. From our experience and in light of the lack of resiliency of the grid, integrating EV chargers with solar PV and carbon trading is the only proven way to make it profitable and hence attractive to potential business owners.
A 15-50 kW EV charger is ideal for integrating with rooftop solar PV systems, battery storage and off-grid inverters. Of the 700 IndianOil retail outlets that we surveyed, approximately 50% had 10-15 kW of solar PV already installed, while 25% had enough space to install 25 kW of solar PV, and 20% were large enough to accommodate 50-75 kW of solar PV. Only the remaining 5% didn’t have enough space for any size of solar PV installation. As per our experience, 15 kW fast DC EV charger is the right fit here for universal adoption. This conclusion was also supported by the supply chain, including EV charger manufacturers, says Prateek.
Vikas says the market of EVs will grow. If we see the year 2022, we can say for sure that the market has accepted the EVs and it is destined to overtake the ICE vehicle market. But having a strong infrastructure
of a fast EV charging network will be the cherry on top. As a battery manufacturer, I know how it feels to wait
for hours to get your battery fully charged. If residential societies and corporate buildings will have fast EV charging stations, which will for sure encourage non-EV raiders to adopt EVs.
Fast charging has the power to take the EV revolution to the next level, by eliminating the one major inconvenience associated with driving electric – waiting hours for your EV to charge. This stands out more
in the B2B use case where we need these vehicles to run round the clock and the 15 minute charge time is the key to unlocking the true potential of these vehicles. For this to be a reality we need to ensure the infrastructure tosupport these demands is also in place. With Fast charging stations at strategic locations planned around a city we can look at Fast EVs soon coming into the picture in huge numbers. This will not only change the way EVs are currently serving the logistics sector but will also be the tipping point for faster adoption of these vehicles as there will be a significant increase in the revenues generated per EV and for the Businesses a significant drop in the rental of such services, Visakh adds.
Future Trend for Fast Charging Technology
Currently, larger vehicles serving the B2B segment are more in demand due to their high charge time which immobilizes these EVs for up to 5-6 hours. Fast charging allows these vehicles to be back on the road within 15 minutes. Imagine your driver takes a coffee break and meanwhile the vehicle gets charged and is ready before he even gets done with his break for the next route, elaborates Visakh.
A few use cases we can see coming to light with the availability of fast charging vehicles in EV-as-a-service fleets are:
• With Fast charging available we can expect to see fewer EVs populating the roads to fulfill the jobs of ICE vehicles
• Mid mile to last mile deliveries becomes a possibility with the same vehicles
• Cross utilization of vehicles during their idle time
• With proper infrastructure in place there will decrease in the overall range anxiety of these EVs as well
• Overall a beneficial impact on the environment will be seen with fewer EVs with 0 emissions
Overall, the future of fast-charging EV fleets in India looks promising as it provides a sustainable, cost-effective and low-emission transportation solution.
Vikas says, till now govt has given subsidies on buying EVs and installing an EV charging station, it will be amazing to see if govt or corporate sector goes one step ahead and start incentivizing the regular use
of electric vehicles or if DISCOMS can come up with policies that will allow the power developers to sell their surplus power for EV charging purpose. I believe the future trend of EV charging will be the combination of policies and advanced technology. Initially, the EV batteries were designed with high energy density to enable longer range. However, fast-charging batteries will require various other technologies to be incorporated around the li-ion cells.
Fast-charging li-ion battery packs can lead to excessive heating and safety issues, which effective cooling technologies can successfully resolve, shares Pankaj. Log9’s RapidX range of LTO battery packs is designed to be fast-charged 100% of their lifecycle, thus delivering the convenience of higher uptime and increased revenue for the end user. By choosing the appropriate cell chemistry and cell design for batteries, fast-charging technology will become more adaptable in the market going forward. With an appropriate cooling technology, even chemistries like LFP can be enabled with fast charging in the future while preserving the battery life. Furthermore, some companies are working on solid-state batteries, but it will take time to come of age.
Prateek says EV charging technology will evolve with EV manufacturers because it depends on the battery chemistry used by the latter in EVs.
Moreover, there is a possibility that we will see battery chemistry used in EV manufacturing which is not Li-ion based; there are many batteries being developed that are metal chemistry based, such as zinc and aluminium. We are also seeing a trend of wireless EV charging including power strips on roads, and drone-based charging while the EV is in motion, and so forth. While all these technologies are evolving, the most important thing is the change in battery chemistry, which will directly reduce the charging time. Hygge’s solution is not limited to EV charging. We are using the same technology for CNG filling. As concerns hydrogen vehicles, we are in discussions with some of the largest hydrogen distributors for hydrogen filling stations. This is evolving much more rapidly than EV batteries.
Fast-Charging Technology Adoption by Everyone
Log9 truly believes in the efficiency of LTO as dependable cell chemistry for fast charging and will continue to invest in developing LTO battery packs while ensuring better energy density. We also believe that systematic thermal management and effective cooling systems can soon bring LFP -based (Lithium Ferrous Phosphate) fast-charging solutions to the market. One of the pertinent expectations from a vehicle in the B2B sector is maximum vehicle uptime. And it is only when the battery is fast chargeable without degrading its cycle life that EV users can experience higher uptime with no vehicle safety issues, thus expediting the adoption of fast charging technology.
For a battery manufacturer to adopt fast charging technology, they must incorporate effective battery management systems, thermal management systems and cooling systems (specifically the ones working on LFP), enabling cell balancing and minimum impact on the battery’s cycle life. Speaking of the adoption of fast charging technology by the CPOs and getting the benefits of maximum utilization of the chargers, they should install more fast DC chargers, augmenting their efforts in catering to the B2B sector and passenger EVs alike, states Pankaj. The main purpose of high-power chargers is to provide a 15-minute charging experience; the battery has to accept charge at a rate that is 4 times its capacity, which is neither recommended nor supported.
Most of the degradation for Lithium-ion batteries happens when they heat up during charging. The charging process ages them; the aging of a battery is directly proportional to the charging rate. Most manufacturers strongly discourage fast charging, especially on a regular basis. The optimal rate of charging is 1/4th the capacity of the EV battery. An advanced battery management system with integrated thermal management is being currently offered by some high-end EV manufacturers, which is indeed a partial solution, but increases the cost of EVs and lowers charging efficiency, and is hence not at all ideal for the Indian market, elaborates Prateek. He further says, an abundance of solar-PV-and-carbon-trading-integrated 15-50 kW public DC EV chargers give business owners as well as EV drivers the best chance at EV adoption. These chargers avoid increased societal cost of transition to EVs while creating additional opportunities in carbon trading, and hence improving the use case for rapid EV adoption in the country. Societal benefits can be quantified as lower cost of the infrastructure due to lower rated EV chargers, deferred cost of replacing distribution transformers and encouragement of low cost production of EVs; a $10 billion opportunity for carbon credits; and promotion of ancillary industries, including solar PV, inverters and battery storage manufacturing – this will also achieve the targets for rooftop solar as EV charging will improve the return on investment for the entrepreneurs and businesses.
Vikas feels that not everyone can adopt fast EV charging, it will be limited to some very specific places like public parking, residential societies, and such places. He says, EV fast chargers need electricity in 100s of KW. But assuming the scenario where I or any EV user is going shopping. Let’s assume the shopping takes at least 1 hour of the time and in that 1 hour my EV is fully charged because of the fast EV charger. This will certainly help me or the EV user as now we don’t have to invest more time waiting for my EV to be charged. Fast EV chargers are the need of the hour as we human beings are very impatient beings. We don’t like to wait, our entire life is surrounded by things happening within a very small interval of time.
Fast charging can revolutionize the EV industry bringing down range anxiety, increasing utility of these vehicles and also reducing overall carbon emissions with fewer vehicles on the roads, provided the infrastructure and grid are ready to support these vehicles. This will change how delivery logistics works for businesses and also bring in a much necessary change to the EV ecosystem. With fast charging consumers will save time generally spent on charging and will also gain the confidence to make the shift to EVs. This can be the much needed push to help make the switch to EVs. Governments can play a role in promoting the adoption of fast charging technology by offering incentives to EV owners, such as tax credits or grants for the installation of home charging stations, or subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles, shares Visakh.
Offerings on Charging Technology
At Fyn we are bullish on the fast-charging technology and are working towards partnerships that will help the overall ecosystem become a sustainable one. With Fast charging there is no need for extra batteries (as in case of battery swapping) or vehicles (as in case of slow-charge EVs) to do the same job. We intend to utilize our EVs to full potential with fast charging. We intend to cross-utilize these vehicles within the same client or with multiple clients. This will not only give us an advantage on higher revenues but also allow our drivers to earn more with higher deliveries, says Visakh.
Our company’s primary focus is battery manufacturing and R& D into the subject matter to ensure India can manufacture all its parts within the country rather than exporting them. Also, we understand that the entire EV ecosystem is intertwined therefore we have been working with like-minded EV charging players to help the network grow and share equal knowledge with them for the same. We are working with electric 2-wheeler manufacturers both in high-speed and low-speed segments and are also working with electric rickshaw manufacturers. I take pride in saying that we are able to meet all of the expectations of our clients, shares Vikas.
Pankaj says, at the initial stage of battery design and manufacturing, Log9 chose amenable cell chemistry, LTO, as it allows consistent fast charging with 100% SOC without cell degradation. LTO does not require complex and expensive cooling technologies for active thermal management systems, which keeps the battery architecture simple and safe. Our RapidX LTO batteries come with an in-house Battery Management System (BMS), which monitors the SoC and alerts the user of a low-charge condition along with detecting other errors in the battery functioning. Another strategic call we took was to design battery packs supporting the currently installed Bharat DC 001 chargers across the country, ensuring maximum utilization of the existing charging infrastructure, especially for sub-100volt systems (for 2Ws and 3Ws platforms). Our combination of LTO cell chemistry and Bharat DC 001 fast chargers allows the battery to charge within 15 minutes and 30 minutes for 2Ws and 3Ws, respectively. Furthermore, we have an InstaCharge application that allows quick access to fast chargers and enables a smoother payment process at multiple fast charging stations.
Hygge’s EV charging solution, which can be integrated to any EV charging or battery-swapping system and has a universal adapter that works with all EVs, addresses all of these problems with the help of our pioneering technology. It was designed with three essential objectives in mind: EVs are charged using low-cost solar or other renewable energy, hence promoting actual zero-emission mobility; no upgrades are needed in the grid infrastructure, hence avoiding delays and expenses; and grid load dependency decreases for charging station, hence improving grid resiliency, decreasing electricity bills and drastically reducing the payback period of rooftop solar installations.
Hygge’s solution proved that a fuel station powered by rooftop solar can not only reduce its electricity bill by 80% but also provide 8 hours of EV charging without using any electricity from the grid. In the context of carbon trading, our solution opens up access to a $10 billion carbon trading market for EV charging ($15 billion when combined with CNG). It is also a huge opportunity for companies like Indian Oil to generate carbon credits; analyses have shown we can add up to $125 million to IndianOil’s annual revenue only through carbon trading from solar-based EV charging. The solution is supported by our comprehensive EV charging app that provides the ability for EV drivers to book and reserve EV charging time slots in advance, avoiding waiting time, disappointments because of not getting a charging spot, and general chaos and inconvenience at charging stations, Prateek elaborates.
With the adoption of electric vehicles, there is a number of challenges. Although, the Indian Government has taken a lot of initiatives to improvise the EV industry, charging infrastructure has come out as a major loophole. The government has set a target to electrify 70 percent of all commercial vehicles, 30 of private cars, 40 percent of buses, and 80 percent of two-wheeler and three-wheeler sales by 2030. For achieving this target automotive industry will require strong charging facilities. As EV adoption is increasing in the country so fast charging facilities will be a must.