NITI Aayog Releases Draft Battery Swap Policy to Promote Widespread Adoption of Electric Vehicles; Details here

Government think tank NITI Aayog released the draft Battery Swap Policy on Thursday, April 21 and invited comments and suggestions from all stakeholders.

During the 2022-2023 budget, the central government had announced its intention to introduce a battery exchange policy and interoperability standards, with the aim of creating and improving the efficiency of the battery ecosystem. exchange of batteries, thus promoting the adoption of electric vehicles.

In this regard, NITI Aayog held an inter-ministerial discussion to formulate a sound and comprehensive battery swap policy framework in February 2022.

NITI Aayog also hosted an in-depth discussion with a wide range of stakeholders representing battery swap operators, battery manufacturers, automotive OEMs, financial institutions, CSOs, think tanks and other experts.

“After due deliberations and taking into consideration all inputs provided by relevant stakeholders, NITI Aayog has drafted the Battery Swap Policy,” the government think tank said. mentioned in one release.

The government’s policy think tank has asked shareholders to submit their comments on the draft policy document by June 5.

“EVs (electric vehicles) are traditionally purchased with ‘fixed’ batteries that can only be charged using the power supply when housed in the EV. Such as service stations for ICE vehicles (internal combustion engine), adequate, affordable, accessible and reliable charging networks are a prerequisite for mass adoption of electric vehicles,” reads NITI Aayog’s battery swap policy document.

Noting that efforts are underway in India to increase the availability of charging infrastructure, NITI Aayog said charging still takes much longer than refueling an ICE vehicle.

“Battery swapping is an alternative which consists of exchanging discharged batteries for charged batteries and offers the possibility of charging them separately. This decouples the charging and the use of the battery and keeps the vehicle in operational mode with a negligible downtime,” the draft NITI Aayog policy document states.

The government think tank said battery swapping is typically used for smaller vehicles such as two- and three-wheelers with smaller batteries, which are easier to swap. However, solutions are emerging for swapping batteries in electric four-wheelers and buses, he added.

According to the draft policy document, battery swapping is faster than normal charging, which takes a long time, adding to the inconvenience of EV owners and creating range anxiety.

“Battery swapping is done in minutes, as the batteries are pre-charged at swap stations,” he said.

In addition, charging stations require more space to park vehicles while battery requires limited parking, which would meet space constraints in urban areas.

“While battery swapping involves a greater number of batteries than conventional batteries, each swappable battery may have a smaller capacity (kWh) because range anxiety is a lesser concern,” he said. he adds.

Battery swapping is part of larger battery-as-a-service (BaaS) business models, which involve users buying an electric vehicle without the battery, significantly reducing upfront costs and paying a fee subscription plans (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) for service providers for battery services throughout the life of the vehicle.

BaaS is applicable to fixed and removable batteries and is the channel to implement exchange solutions.

According to the draft policy document, battery swapping is still nascent in India but is gaining momentum, especially for commercial and fleet operations.

There are currently a limited number of battery swap service providers that have engaged with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), individual and commercial users, and other relevant stakeholders, to develop battery ecosystems. exchange services with compatible components (batteries, vehicles, chargers, etc.) within each ecosystem.

According to NITI Aayog, the policy would support the vision of catalyzing large-scale adoption of electric vehicles by promoting adoption of battery swap technology implemented through BaaS business models that will ensure lower upfront costs, minimal downtime and reduced space requirements.

The policy also addresses key technical, regulatory, institutional and financial challenges that will help develop battery swapping ecosystems to unlock large-scale adoption of battery swapping in India, he said.

According to NITI Aayog’s battery exchange policy document, the main objectives of the policy are as follows:

  1. Promote battery swapping with Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) batteries to decouple battery costs from upfront EV purchase costs, thereby driving EV adoption.

  2. Provide flexibility to EV users by promoting the development of battery swapping as an alternative to charging facilities.

  3. Establish principles underlying technical standards that would enable interoperability of components within a battery swap ecosystem, without hampering market-driven innovation

  4. Leverage policy and regulatory levers to reduce risk in the battery swap ecosystem, to unlock access to competitive funding.

  5. Encourage partnerships between battery suppliers, battery OEMs and other relevant partners such as insurance/financing, thus encouraging the formation of ecosystems capable of providing integrated services to end users.

  6. Promote better battery life cycle management, including maximizing the use of batteries during their useful life and the recycling of end-of-life batteries.

NITI Aayog said the policy encourages collaboration among stakeholders to form battery-swapping ecosystems that are sustainable, scalable and leverage each party’s strengths.

“Rather than imposing a rigid set of technical and operational requirements to drive interoperability, this policy will allow multiple distinct interoperable solutions to emerge from the market,” he added. mentioned.

As part of the policy, battery trading ecosystems must be “open” to allow the participation of other market players to be considered for support.

“This would avoid the formation of closed loops that would limit flexibility and choice for EV users,” he said.

“The standards approved or defined by the BIS must be implemented for the electric vehicle, the safety requirements of the batteries, the degrees of protection (IP code) of the electrical equipment against foreign objects, the technical specifications of the cables and connectors and traction battery safety requirements,” the document reads. bed.

In addition, the batteries will be tested and certified according to “AIS 156 (2020) and AIS 038 Rev 2 (2020)” standards for the safety of traction batteries, as well as additional tests that may be prescribed for interchangeable batteries that are subject to multiple coupling. , connector-level decoupling process, he added.

To ensure a high level of protection at the electrical interface, a robust and rigorous test protocol must be adopted to avoid any dielectric breakdown, arcing phenomenon or any undesirable temperature rise at the electrical interface, in accordance with the policy document. .

The battery’s battery management system should be self-certified and open to testing to verify its compatibility with various systems and its ability to meet safety requirements, he said.

In addition, to ensure a safe and cost-effective infrastructure for charging and swapping EV batteries, standards for BCS (Battery Charging Station) and BSS (Battery Swapping Station) will be developed or approved by BIS/ Ministry of Energy (MoP) or other relevant authorities. authorities, according to the document.

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