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Electric rikshaw India

Maxson Lewis, Managing Director, Magenta Power

Clean-powered electric mobility deployment in India

17 October 2019, 6:22 BST 3 min read

Personally, with more than 4 years of experience in the automotive sector and 15 years in the power generation, transmission and distribution sector; I do believe that electric mobility is the way forward. While the buzz around electric mobility is encouraging, to truly address the problem of increasing air pollution and accelerate climate action we need to ensure that the electric vehicles are charged through clean energy. Otherwise, as most of the electricity is still generated from coal, electric vehicles will simply transfer the pollution from the tail pipe to the chimney stacks. To counter this, we will have to look at this ecosystem with a new set of lenses. That is exactly what we at ChargeGrid are aiming to achieve; ChargeGrid is the electric vehicle charging solutions provider offered by Magenta Power. 

We realised three key facts about the electric vehicle revolution early on – we need to take a holistic view of the ecosystem, it must tend towards clean energy solutions, and Indian challenges will need Indian solutions to be developed. 

On 13th June 2018, when we installed India’s first solar based electric vehicle charging solution, we invested in 20KW solar panels. Today, this station is generating more solar power than what is being consumed. 

Our second solar based electric vehicle charging station was for a client for domestic use. This solar installation not only charges the car but has brought the electricity bill of the home down from INR 10,000 (US$ 140) per month to zero. 

 In a country where the urban population is largely concentrated in high rises and the luxury of a dedicated parking lot is limited to a privileged few, it is important to solve this issue from a social angle along with a technological angle. In August 2018, we equipped India’s first housing society with solar based electric vehicle charging – 3 electric vehicle chargers in the parking lot. This involved getting all the stakeholders and the entire community onboard - including those who do not have any intention of owning an electric vehicle soon  - and familiarising them with electric vehicle charging, since the concept was new. Thankfully, we found immense support from the committee members and the community at large. This initiative has now caught the attention of several enthusiasts and more installations are underway. At ChargeGrid we take pride in our innovation – not only from a product or solution perspective but also developing participation models and engagements. 

So, what next? While our ambition has been to have all our charging stations use clean energy, the existing price points were not feasible. Also, the space required for the panels is not always available. We are now working on a solar based modular electric vehicle charging system for the rural market. We are also working on a pilot for electric vehicle charging off-grid. 

Currently the wheeling concepts in our transmission grid systems and policies do not allow for centralised solar generation and tapping it at each charging station. While that day is not far away when this will be possible, at this point we believe that integrating the micro grid to the charging solution is the interim option. 

Newer technologies are evolving and driving down the cost of clean energy generation. When the cost arbitrage for the integrated clean energy based electric vehicle charging tips towards the positive, the drive to clean mobility will be faster. 

Technology is bound to move ahead, but what is required is for the take-off of electric vehicles to move from the pioneers and early adopters to the masses. Electric mobility is yet to be understood, misconceptions to be broken, value proposition to be established. At ChargeGrid we are happy to be playing the role of kickstarting that transition.