Innovating for Clean Air pilots: India

To build on our work through the Innovating for Clean Air programme in Bengaluru to address the interrelated challenges of electric vehicle (EV) uptake and reducing air pollution, we’ve worked with UK and Indian organisations to develop four pilot projects in the city.

GreenEnco charging station

As part of the Clean Air Testbed in March 2021, GreenEnco designed, developed and installed an EV charging station integrated with solar power generation and battery storage at the Indian Institute of Science campus with local partners.  

To continue work on the pilot project, GreenEnco developed a mobile phone application for booking and payment for charging with a dynamic pricing mechanism. An initial user group is being established to trial the app to understand how the tool can be further enhanced and the user preferences towards dynamic pricing.  

Through developing and testing the app: 

  • GreenEnco have brought their solution closer to commercialisation. The app will enable them to explore how to attract users to the charging station, for example if push notifications can be incorporated to attract users when charging prices are low.
  • We connected GreenEnco with EverythingEco, an Indian partner who will recruit a range of stakeholders – from car makers, last mile distribution companies and consumer, trade and industry groups – to create a user group. The company has already supported the pilot project by collecting insights on how EV drivers view using solar generated electricity to power their vehicles – the outputs highlight that drivers place high importance on the source of the electricity they use.

Previous work on this pilot project and development of the app has allowed GreenEnco and the Indian Institute of Science to showcase the charging station to a range of stakeholders and highlight the value of green generated electricity for EV charging. Through using the charging station, EV drivers have been able to reduce the carbon intensity of their travelling.

Electrified delivery pilot project

The growth of e-commerce in India has been accelerated considerably by the pandemic, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the gig economy, largely in the last mile delivery sector.

Food delivery companies such as Swiggy, Zomato; market places such as Amazon, Flipkart; Grocers such as BigBasket; and fashion retailers such as Ajio, Myntra, are all contributing to this growth. The most common mode of transportation for deliveries are fossil-fuel based two and three-wheelers. 

Fuel prices in India are on a continuous rise due to government policies, and participants in the gig economy can directly benefit from the relatively cheaper running costs of EVs. As well as this, there are clear climate change benefits from transitioning to electric mobility solutions.

However, higher capital costs (largely due to battery cost), concerns around the service ecosystem, and uncertainty around charge point availability are some of the deterrents/ challenges that are slowing down the transition. 

There is an opportunity for makers of electric two/three-wheelers and ancillary service providers to address some of these challenges to accelerate EV adoption in the last mile delivery segment of Tier 1, Tier 2 cities across the country. There are emerging small and mid-sized manufacturers who cater to this segment by providing cost-effective designs suited for short distance cargo deliveries.

In addition, tech companies are entering the business of battery charging and swapping infrastructure, or its associated technologies and the financing/leasing of EVs. However, there is very limited information on how the whole ecosystem works when together. 

Recently we launched an open call inviting electric two/three-wheeler innovators to trial their products in a testbed with Swiggy. Following this, E drives, a Bengaluru based innovator with a range of electric bikes, has trialled one of their products with the food delivery company.  

Through this pilot project, we have helped Swiggy and E drives to: 

  • Build a better picture of the state of the electrified two-wheel market in India and introduced them to a wide range of innovators in the space;
  • The real-world trial allowed a Swiggy driver to gain experience of how an EV could be incorporated into their work;
  • Understand the challenges around data collection in some vehicles which innovators are working to improve.

The India Electric Vehicle Opportunity: Market Entry Toolkit

The Connected Places and Energy Systems Catapults have produced a Market Entry Toolkit to provide innovators with practical guidance on how to enter the Indian market.

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Electric Vehicle dashboard

Initiated through the Innovating for Clean Air programme, UrbanMorph is continuing development of a platform that will support EV users to better understand their energy consumption and charging requirements but will also provide valuable data and insights to other stakeholders. 

Using information drawn from consumer vehicles and capturing their detailed journey and charging patterns, the platform will: 

  • use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and deep learning algorithms to understand EV user behaviour and provide guidance on getting the most efficient usage pattern;
  • provide an extensive data set from EV Battery Management System (BMS) integration that can be analysed to predict how the city will move in the future.

To begin data integration, UK innovator eFleet Analytics will test its SIM card based data collection devices with an EV taxi company in Bengaluru, eee-taxi. The data collected will provide an initial data set for the dashboard, and subsequently eee-taxi will have access to analytics and insights through the dashboard to help improve charging patterns and optimise daily operations.

Hackathon – Energy modelling

Throughout 2020-21, we worked with the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) to deliver the Clean Air Street, a ground-breaking demonstration area in the central business district of Bengaluru. The street in question, Church Street, was transformed into a testbed for EV and clean air innovations, with over ten start-up businesses showcasing and testing their solutions in a real-life context.  

To continue our collaboration with the DULT, we are hosting a hackathon to enable the development of an energy modelling solution for metro station transit points to help improve energy efficiencies and advise on future development. We currently have a number of organisations and individuals, both academic and private, taking part in the hackathon to help design and develop an energy modelling tool, providing participants with the opportunity to showcase research and ideas that can address energy modelling challenges.  

 The hackathon will:

  • produce a tool with the ability to predict energy scenarios in Transit Oriented Development Zones for different time frames and levels of energy uptake;
  • provide insights into new ways of using the datasets currently available; 
  • enable future collaboration opportunities between participants involved.

The hackathon winners will be announced in spring.

Innovating for Clean Air

Led by Energy Systems Catapult and funded by UKRI, this project aimed to address the interrelated challenges of EV uptake and reducing air pollution in India.

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