NITI Aayog Releases Draft Battery Swapping Policy To Promote Large-Scale Adoption Of EVs; Details Here

Swarajya Staff

Apr 21, 2022, 11:47 AM | Updated 12:19 PM IST

A battery swapping station (Representative Image)
A battery swapping station (Representative Image)

Government's think tank NITI Aayog on Thursday (21 April) released the draft Battery Swapping Policy and invited comments and suggestions from all the stakeholders.

During Budget 2022-2023, the Central government had announced plans to introduce a Battery Swapping Policy and interoperability standards, with the intent of building and improving the efficiency of the battery swapping ecosystem, thereby driving EV adoption.

In this regard, NITI Aayog held an inter-ministerial discussion to formulate a robust and comprehensive Battery Swapping policy framework in February 2022.

NITI Aayog also held an extensive pre-draft stakeholder discussion with a wide spectrum of stakeholders representing Battery Swapping Operators, Battery Manufacturers, Vehicle OEMs, Financial Institutions, CSOs, Think Tanks and other experts.

"After due deliberations and taking cognizance of all the inputs provided by relevant stakeholders, NITI Aayog has drafted the Battery Swapping Policy," the government think tank said in a release.

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

"EVs (Electric Vehicles) are traditionally purchased with “fixed” batteries which can only be charged using the power supply while housed within the EV. Like fueling stations for ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles, adequate, affordable, accessible, and reliable charging networks are a pre-requisite for mass EV adoption," reads the NITI Aayog's battery swapping policy document.

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

"Battery swapping is an alternative which involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones and provides flexibility to charge them separately. This de-links charging and battery usage and keeps the vehicle in operational mode with negligible downtime," the NITI Aayog draft policy document reads.

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

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

"Battery swapping is done in minutes, as the batteries are pre-charged in swapping stations," it said.

Further, the charging stations require more space for parking vehicles whereas battery require limited parking, which would address space constraints in urban areas.

"While battery swapping involves a greater number of batteries than conventional batteries, each swappable battery can be smaller in capacity (kWh), since range anxiety is a smaller concern," it added.

Battery swapping falls under the broader umbrella of Battery as a Service (BaaS) business models which involve users purchasing an EV without the battery, which significantly lowers upfront costs, and paying a regular subscription fee (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) to service providers for battery services throughout the vehicle lifetime.

BaaS is applicable for both fixed and removeable batteries and is the channel to implement swapping solutions.

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

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

According to the NITI Aayog, the policy would support the vision of catalysing large-scale adoption of EVs by promoting the adoption of battery swapping technology implemented via BaaS business models which will ensure lower upfront costs, minimal downtime, and lower space requirements.

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

According to the NITI Aayog's battery swapping policy document, the key objectives of the policy are to:

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

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

  3. Establish principles behind technical standards that would enable the interoperability of components within a battery swapping ecosystem, without hindering market-led innovation

  4. Leverage policy and regulatory levers to de-risk the battery swapping ecosystem, to unlock access to competitive financing.

  5. Encourage partnerships among battery providers, battery OEMs and other relevant partners such insurance/financing, thereby encouraging the formation of ecosystems capable of delivering integrated services to end users.

  6. Promote better lifecycle management of batteries, including maximising the use of batteries during their usable lifetime, and end of life battery recycling.

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

"Rather than mandating a rigid set of technical and operational requirements to foster interoperability, this policy will allow for multiple distinct interoperable solutions to arise from the market," it said.

Under the policy, the battery swapping ecosystems are required to be "open" to allow participation from other market players to be considered for support.

"This would avoid the formation of closed loops which would limit flexibility and choice for EV users," it said.

"Standards approved or defined by BIS shall be implemented for the electric vehicle, battery safety requirements, Degrees of Protection (IP-code) of electrical equipment against foreign objects, technical specification of cables and connectors, and traction battery safety requirements," the document reads.

Further, batteries will tested and certified as per "AIS 156 (2020) and AIS 038 Rev 2 (2020) standards" for safety of traction battery packs, as well as additional tests that may be prescribed for swappable batteries which are subject to multiple coupling, decoupling processes at the connectors, it added.

To ensure a high level of protection at the electrical interface, a robust and rigorous testing protocol shall be adopted to avoid any dielectric breakdown, arc phenomenon, or any unwanted temperature rise at the electrical interface, according to the policy document.

The battery management system of the battery must be self-certified and open for testing to check its compability with various systems, and capability to meet safety requirements, it said.

Further, to ensure safe and cost-effective infrastructure for charging and swapping of EV batteries, standards for BCS (battery charging station) and BSS (battery swapping station) will be developed or approved by BIS/Ministry of Power (MoP) or other competent authorities, according to the document.

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