Fortum, one of the world's leading clean energy companies, is eyeing a signal role in powering a wide fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) on Indian roads.
With a dominant presence in Nordic countries and the Baltic region, Russia and Poland, Fortum is looking to deepen presence in India by building on its network of charging points for EVs. Fortum India which has already operationalized 36 direct current (DC), unmanned points in the suburbs of Hyderabad and Mumbai, is aiming to ramp up this network to 700 by 2020.
“We are constantly evaluating the Indian market for charging infrastructure. On our radar are the advanced cities with higher per capita incomes and people with greater disposable incomes. So, in addition to Hyderabad and Mumbai, we are looking at cities like Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Pune”, said Awadesh Jha, vice president (charge & drive and sustainability), Fortum India.
He refused to share figures on investments already sunk in or those in the pipeline.
Fortum is among the pioneers in EV charging. It boasts of 3000 smart chargers in Nordic countries, thirty per cent of them being DC quick chargers.
Beginning with a pilot in October 2017, Fortum marked its foray into the EV charging market in India. Before setting off on the EV charging business, Fortum started its India activity in 2012 with the takeover of 5 Mw solar power project in Rajasthan. It has grown staggeringly since then with a portfolio of 685 Mw solar power projects- 185 Mw operative and the residual 500 Mw under implementation.
Fortum has also forged a joint venture with Numaligarh Refinery Ltd along with Chempolis for installing a bio-refinery plant. “We intend to manufacture ethanol from bamboo. To cut down on emissions, the government has plans to blend a certain percentage of ethanol with petrol and diesel”, Jha said.
Turning to EVs, he said, the Indian market offers immense possibilities with Tata and Mahindra already rolling out their models. “In India, the EVs unveiled so far are low voltage vehicles as opposed to Europe and Japan where the vehicles need higher capacity charging. Towards the middle of this year, we are expecting more EV launches from the higher end OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)”.
According to Jha, the EV charging ecosystem in India is dotted with numerous players but the space is headed for consolidation in the long term along the lines of the telecom sector.
“India is a market where competition is huge. But we are not looking at competition, our thrust is on collaboration”, he added.
He feels the Government of India's second phase of Faster Adoption & Manufacturing of Electric & Hybrid Vehicles (FAME) will give an impetus to e-mobility.
“It is a welcome step to see the focus on creating charging infrastructure for enabling adoption of e-mobility. Though details of modalities of scheme is not known, we expect that private charge point operators will get the opportunity to participate in creating charging infrastructure through this scheme. Additionally, FAME-II has provided support for vehicles fitted with Li-ion based battery that have the potential to scale up particularly for high performance and high range vehicles”, said Jha.