Electric vehicles charging infrastructure: Debate begins with sale vs service argument

Besides the upfront cost of electric vehicle, the availability of user friendly charging infrastructure is the single biggest factor that determines whether a country’s EV (electric vehicle) pursuit would succeed or not, Vidar Helgesen, Norwegian minister of climate and the environment, emphatically asserted when The Indian Express met him in his office in Oslo last month. Helgesen would know. Norway currently has the highest per capita number of electric cars in the world and has set an all-electric vehicle sales target for 2025. India has recently followed suit, having set a stiff all-electric vehicle sales target of 2030, but things will have to start from scratch here. While an attempt is on to prod vehicle manufacturers to start EV production, the blueprint for the charging infrastructure is still on the drawing boards.

Work-in-progress

The first and foremost question, as one looks at the legal and regulatory framework in India’s price-sensitive automobile market, is whether EV charging should be treated as a ‘service business’ or as purely the ‘sale of electricity’. The Central Government is learnt to have set up a committee chaired by the Member Planning, Central Electricity Authority (CEA) — the apex policy advisory body in the power sector — to recommend the way forward for developing EV charging infrastructure in India that can push the introduction of EVs on a large scale. The Forum of Regulators — an aggregation of power sector regulatory institutions — has also commissioned a separate study to look into the various aspects.

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