Bruce Warner | Global Segment Manager Transportation Grid Integration | Hitachi ABB Power Grids in an exclusive Interview affirms ‘No other provider has the same level of grid integration expertise which is essential in delivering a charging solution with a reduced footprint, plus our revolutionary Gird-eMotion fleet is the first systems-based approach whereas others mostly offer charging solutions.’ Underling many facets and future of e-mobility and Hitachi ABB Power Grids expertise in this domain and the veteran also shares the backwards and forwards of India’s approach in cross border power transfer, sustainable energy, greener economy and the fate of Smart Cities in India. Edited Nub Below.
- How do you look into the present-future of smart mobility in India and Hitachi ABB Power Grids focus into it?
India is on an ambitious journey to electrify 30% of its vehicle fleets by 2030 as proposed by government think tank Niti Aayog. Testing of operational feasibility of electric buses, cars, two-wheelers, rickshaws, taxis and goods vehicles, are already making in-roads. As compared to other countries, India is few years behind in terms of adoption, infrastructure, and regulations. However, Government has taken various measures to boost the domestic manufacturing segment. Schemes such as FAME and 100 percent FDI to ebus manufacturers provide great incentives to lower the costs of electric buses to make it more affordable and facilitate their adoption in the country.
A significant portion of the EV industry in India is represented by SMEs and start-ups. With the country forecast to become the fourth largest EV market over the next 20 years, Indian start-ups have started taking on the opportunity. We are partnering with various stakeholders to advance smart mobility in the country from current levels.
With over 70,000 buses above 6 ton sold in 2017, the Indian bus market represents a larger share of the 430,000 buses above 6 ton sold globally. If only a small percentage of these were to be electric, it could easily become the second-largest market behind China. (https://www.sustainable-bus.com/news/indian-electric-bus-market-to-exceed-7000-units-by-2025/)
The increased interest in the sector has been further fueled by Union Road and Transport Minister reaffirming India’s potential to become a major manufacturing hub for electric vehicles in the next five years. Altogether, it will open up more prospects for the Indian industry to pick up the shift in business.
- Kindly share an anecdote about Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ new EV fleet charging systems for global e-mobility and how important is Indian market for the company?
Grid-eMotion Fleet is the first full grid-to-plug, DC-DC EV charging system, for public transport and commercial operators. It is a game-changing solution that delivers unprecedented scalability, space savings and operational efficiency for anyone managing public transport and commercial EV fleets. It will not only accelerate the global uptake of safe, sustainable and smart transport, but will lead to cleaner air and an enhanced quality of life for all, enabling a stronger, smarter and greener future for generations to come.
It has the unique ability to charge more vehicles simultaneously while reducing the space needed for EV chargers by up to 60 percent. It also requires up to 40 percent less depot cabling.
The three strongest points about Grid-eMotion Fleet are:
- It leverages the 120+ years’ grid integration expertise of a global leader in the sector, Hitachi ABB Power Grids, and therefore has been designed to connect directly with the DC grid and remove the complexities of grid integration for operators.
- It is a complete system – not just the individual charging products – combining ground-breaking power electronics and digital technologies, with a sophisticated energy management system
- It harnesses Hitachi’s leadership to enable smart cities and sustainable mobility
- Given other parts of the world, Indian market is acute and the same time brings new opportunities for the Electric revolution, the challenges and scopes you foresee in this indigenous market?
Major challenges for electric vehicle adoption in the country would be the low availability of charging infrastructure, affordability – larger upfront cost compared with traditional vehicles – and range anxiety. However, we see them being overcome as globally countries realize the long-term benefits of emobility – clean energy and energy security, being few to name. Yet, the adoption doesn’t only mean front-end changes. It also means grid modernization happening in tandem to support changing consumption patterns. We also hope to see a shift from product-based charging to system-based charging where our Grid-eMotion fleet will play an important role. Besides, we could see wireless connectivity being used as ‘bonus’ working time on public transport; smart bus stops; internet-connected safety and security sensors (incl. ticketless systems); public autonomous transport, among others.
- R&D strength of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ to empower EV fleet charging systems?
We have a global footprint, competence and the largest installed base in our space. Underpinned by a customer-focused mindset and a world-class R&D organization (2000+ experts), Hitachi ABB Power Grids will continue to anticipate future needs and co-create innovative products, systems and services. For Grid-eMotion Fleet the R&D team is located in different parts of the world but an important part of that team is based in India in Chennai.
- What is the current level of mass-market readiness for EV adoption?
The global ebus adoption is likely to triple by 2025. According to McKinsey, urban electric buses are surpassing the growth of every other electric-vehicle (EV) segment: they constitute the fastest-growing part of the EV market, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 100 percent since 2013, compared with 60 percent for fully electric passenger cars. With more than 500,000 eBuses* already in service today, and the number climbing daily, operators now need solutions that go beyond the charger to help them connect seamlessly from the grid to power their expanding EV fleets. *(https://www.sustainable-bus.com/news/electric-vehicle-outlook-2020-bnef-electric-buses/)
- How Hitachi-ABB Power Grids is supporting public transport in creating stronger, smarter and greener grids providing power to increasingly large e-mobility loads?
We already are playing an important role in railway and metro electrification all over the world with our pioneering power and digital technologies. We also offer world-class battery charging system to further advance zero-emission mass public transportation that charges bus battery in seconds as passengers get on and off the bus. Our TOSA e-bus charging solution reduces carbon emissions by 1,000 tonnes per year for 600,000 kms, cuts noise pollution generated by diesel buses and is a cost-effective solution for bus operators. We have just unveiled our game-changing Grid-eMotion Fleet based on full grid-to-plug technology for public transport and commercial operators that will give them the unique capability to charge more vehicles while reducing their carbon footprint.
Battery-powered electric buses are a leading solution to enable zero emissions and high energy efficiency. But they call for a new charging approach that fits into the existing depots for diesel buses that were not built with an EV charging strategy in mind. Our Grid-eMotion Fleet’s system charging infrastructure will make the electrification of bus fleets as easy as possible, so that operators can focus on fulfilling their primary mission of getting their passengers comfortably from A to B, while we care about the electrification journey. In the future, we could also look at lorries and heavy vehicles under our fleet charging solution.
It is a complete system – not just the individual charging products. It combines ground-breaking power electronics and digital technologies, with a sophisticated energy management system, harnessing Hitachi ABB Power Grid’s leadership to enable smart cities and sustainable mobility.
- What is the USP of Hitachi ABB Power Grids as other major players eyeing towards the same segment?
No other provider has the same level of grid integration expertise which is essential in delivering a charging solution with a reduced footprint, plus our revolutionary Gird-eMotion fleet is the first systems-based approach whereas others mostly offer charging solutions.
Grid-eMotion Fleet uses DC-DC converter technology for connection to any type of grids, removing the complexities of integrating several AC-DC stages into a system while reducing the overall footprint by between 40 and 60 percent. It also requires up to 40 percent less depot cabling and reduces the space needed for EV chargers by up to 60 percent. Grid-eMotion Fleet also leverages Hitachi ABB Power Grid’s state of the art smart energy management e-mesh solution to manage and enhance the complete charging infrastructure.
- Business model and strategies to encompass in the Indian market?
Hitachi ABB Power Grid’s strategy and priorities start from customer needs – by staying close to customers we can deliver high quality solutions that contribute to their success. Our experts are continuously innovating and improving. Anticipating future needs is key to our R&D approach, resulting in timely and purposeful solutions for customers and society. Together, with customers and partners, we co-create innovative solutions across the value chain (plan-build-operate) leveraging energy platforms and with a focus on intelligent grids.
In India, we are well aligned with the Government’s Smart Cities and One Nation-One Grid-One frequency mission as well as Power-for-All and Make-in-India initiatives.
- Power without borders
India, in recent years, has created several trans-national links with about 5 GW cross border power transfer capacity with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal and more are planned for the future. Hitachi ABB Power Grid focuses on transforming the power system into a more flexible, resilient, cross border infrastructure that’s more responsive to dynamic changes in demand
- Making the smart cities of the future a reality
Indian government is aiming for 100% rail electrification by 2024 and proposed to electrify 30% of its vehicle fleets by 2030. We at Hitachi ABB Power Grid focus on building modern power systems and hence enabling cleaner, greener smart cities, particularly in transport (electrification) and decarbonization
- Sustainable energy for all
The Government of India aims to bring 24/7 power for all by 2022 & ensure sustainability of this by integrating 450 GW of RE by 2030; and our technologies are aligned to support that mission. Hitachi ABB Power Grids work to expand access to reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity across the world
- Greener economic recovery
As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, India has taken the responsibility of creating a cumulative carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. We see a perfect storm – the chance for governments, consumers and industry to seize this moment to drive for a greener economic recovery by investing in a sustainable energy future, underpinned by modern infrastructure and power systems.
Now more than ever, the world needs innovative energy solutions to address the huge challenges facing society. Only by balancing social, environmental and economic value in harmony can durable progress be made – the basis for our generation and those that follow.
And this is why we believe that now is the right time for us – for Hitachi ABB Power Grids. By merging together the deep competence and insight that Power Grids has in pioneering energy technologies (#1 in the world), combined with Hitachi’s advanced digital technologies (e.g. Lumada) we are uniquely positioned to contribute to a more sustainable energy future.