The Ostara Guide to EV Charging: Safe Charging Stations

In recent weeks, India has witnessed a spurt in EV fire incidents, which have even proved fatal! While the most common explanation given to these fires is the rising summer temperatures in India, nothing could be further from the truth. In this edition of the Ostara Newsletter, we attempt to demystify the causes of battery fires and emphasize the need for safe charging practices, as India moves towards greater EV adoption.

Electric Mobility is fast gaining momentum in India. In 2021, 3,29,190 were sold in India, representing a 168% increase over 2020 sales of 1,22,607 units.

Source: Vaahan Dashboard

With a combined market share of over 90%, 2-wheelers as well as L3 and L5 category 3-wheelers are the most popular electric vehicles in India.  

As this momentum accelerates, we are witnessing a fundamental shift in the Mobility-Energy handshake. As ‘charging your vehicle’, rather than re-fueling it, becomes more common, we need to understand a few concepts and frameworks that are critical to safety in this transition.

Who are the key stakeholders in the Indian EV Charging Value Chain?

An overview of Chargers and Charging Protocols in India

EV charging involves supply of direct current (DC) to the battery pack. As electricity distribution systems supply alternating current (AC), a converter is required to provide DC power to the battery. Most chargers can be classified into one of two types:

  • AC chargers, which provide alternating current (AC) power to a vehicle’s on-board charger from an electrical utility supply
  • DC chargers, which provide direct current (DC) power to a vehicle’s battery system, bypassing the on-board charger.

AC & DC charging are classified into four charging modes

Modes 1 and 2 are applicable for charging an EV using a standard socket outlet, utilising a cable and plug. The portable cable used in Mode 2 has an inbuilt protection and control capability and is typically used for home charging. 

Modes 3 and 4 which use a separate charger device to supply power to the EV, have improved control systems and are used for commercial or public charging.

Source: NITI AAYOG

Source:  Ministry of Power 

Global Charging Standards

The EV charging connector or plug type standard varies across geographies and models. While there is contention around universal plug technology, there is critical mass from global automakers supporting the Combined Charging System (CCS) in North America and Europe, while Japan and its automakers use CHAdeMO, and China, which has the world’s largest electric vehicle market, uses GB/T. Tesla have developed a proprietary dual-connector charge-port design. 

Source: evchargingenelx

OCPP Protocol

Currently, charging networks are connected using a data cable to form a local network and often use proprietary charging management system (CMS). 

The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is an open-source communication protocol for networked EV chargers. The vision of OCPP is to make any EV charger work with any CMS.

Source: Chargelab 

Why do Batteries catch fire?

The arrival of electric mobility has created a need for ubiquitous charging facilities. Each electric charger creates a risk of short circuits and fire, even more so in the case of fast & rapid-charging, where the current-voltage is high and the batteries generate a lot of heat. In fact, it’s the battery that can be the source of a potential fire. 

99% of battery fires are due to short circuits leading to uncontrolled current which results in  the increase in a cell’s temperature by a few hundred degrees Celsius, leading to thermal runaway.

Short circuits happen for three reasons:

‍1. Poor cell quality

2. Poor design of the battery (the way cells are connected & packaged)

3. Poor BMS (management of cells via sensing & software intelligence)

We recommend this excellent blog on this topic by the good folks over at Exponent Energy.

Safe Charging Stations – A Ready Reckoner

All Charging Stations

  • Every socket-outlet of supply is at least 800 mm above the finished ground level, when installing EV charging points.
  • Portable socket-outlets are not permitted to be used for electric vehicle charging.
  • Lightning protection system to be in place as per Indian Standards Code IS/ IEC 62305.
  • An adaptor shall not be used to connect a vehicle connector to a vehicle inlet.
  • All apparatus of charging stations shall have the insulation resistance value as stipulated in the relevant IEC 61851-1. 

Insulation Monitoring:

To guarantee the electrical safety of the charging circuit, it is set up as an ungrounded / floating DC power supply system with insulation monitoring

The IMI in the vehicle needs to be disabled during the charging process to avoid interference.

In the case of Earth Protection

Each EV charging point to be supplied individually by a dedicated final sub-circuit protected by an overcurrent protective device (OPD) complying with applicable standards and the OPD shall be part of a switchboard.

All EV charging stations shall be supplied from a sub-circuit protected by a voltage-independent residual current device 

An earth continuity monitoring system to be in place which disconnects the supply if the earthing connection to the EV becomes ineffective. 

For Fire Prevention,

Enclosure of charging stations to be made of fire retardant material with self-extinguishing property and free from Halogen.

Fire-fighting system for charging stations to be provided in accordance to the guidelines prescribed. 

Power supply cables used in charging stations or charging points shall conform to IEC 62893-1 and its relevant parts.

Sources: Central Electricity Authority IndiaThe Battery University

A Quick Explainer:

IS standards are specialized standards for electronics and related technologies pertaining to India. BIS is the National Standard Body of India established under the BIS Act 2016 for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Source: BIS

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is an international standards organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as “electrotechnology”. IEC standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, as well as many others. 

Source: IEC

IEC 61851 is an international standard for electric vehicle conductive charging systems,1 is one of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s group of standards for electric road vehicles and electric industrial trucks 

IEC 62893-1 talks about Charging cables for electric vehicles for rated voltages up to and including 0,6/1 KV – Part 1: General requirements

IEC 62305 – informs the standards for lightning protection around the world. It is a design standard that comprises four documents that provide the lightning protection designers with the rules and regulations they require to design an LPS.

IEC 60947-1 applies to low-voltage switchgear and controlgear which is intended to be connected to circuits, the rated voltage of which does not exceed 1000 V AC or 1500 V DC. It states the general rules and common safety requirements for low-voltage switchgear and controlgear, including environmental aspects, characteristics, etc.

IEC 60269 is a set of technical standards for low-voltage power fuses.The standard is in four volumes, which describe general requirements, fuses for industrial and commercial applications, fuses for residential applications, and fuses to protect semiconductor devices. 

Source: IEC

Share:

Ostara update

More Posts

Mukund Ranganathan

Partner

Marquee deals

Mukund Ranganathan

Partner

Mukund is a seasoned investment banker with 27 years of experience in advising companies on M&A and capital raising transactions. He has served most recently as Joint Managing Director at Motilal Oswal Investment Banking, where he worked from June 2014 to January 2021. During his career, he has facilitated over 70 strategic financial transactions including Motherson Sumi’s acquisition of PKC Group (Finland), sale of Aurangabad Electricals to Mahindra CIE, Siemens’ sale of Bangalore Airport, sale of Spicejet, Aegis’ acquisition of PeopleSupport (USA), sale of Air Deccan among others. Mukund has extensive experience in raising private equity funding as well as in the capital markets including IPOs, follow-on offerings, GDRs and ADRs for L&T Finance, Indostar, Dixon Technologies, Bharat Financial Inclusion, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, GAIL, etc.

Mukund has earlier worked for 9 years at Edelweiss Financial Services and started his career in 1996 with a 9-year stint at Morgan Stanley. Mr. Ranganathan holds a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Madras (1994) and a PGDM from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (1996).

Vasudha Madhavan

Marquee deals

Vasudha Madhavan

Founder & CEO

Vasudha is the founder of Ostara Advisors (formerly Dhruva Advisors) and is one of the first investment bankers in India to specialise in Electric Mobility, having advised clients in this space since 2017. She made her all-India M&A League Table debut in the top 20 in October 2018.

In 2023, Vasudha was felicitated by India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) as one of the “Women leaders driving energy sector in India” 

Vasudha has over 21 years of experience in Corporate & Investment Banking; with leading organizations like Citibank and ICICI Bank, as well as in boutique investment banking, based in Mumbai and Bangalore. Vasudha is responsible for having set up and expanded the ‘Private Equity & Hedge Fund’ coverage vertical for Citibank, India. She has also been part of Citibank’s Risk Management team for mid-size corporates, managing the bank’s lending decisions to a portfolio of companies in ITES, auto components, facilities management services, logistics, diversified manufacturing etc.

Vasudha is also a mentor at Aspire for Her, a unique organisation that enables women to join and stay in the workforce, through campus engagement, mentorships and skilling workshops. Their vision is to impact 1 million+ women and add $5B to India’s GDP through increased participation of women in the workforce by 2025.

Vasudha earned her MBA in Finance from XLRI, Jamshedpur, India and her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, India. She is also a certified Advanced Scuba Diver and enjoys photography, having held several solo and group exhibitions of her work.

R. 'Shanx' Ravisankar

Industry Expert – Financial Technology and Cloud Solutions

Shanx is a founding member and former CEO of Oracle Financial Services Software, (formerly known as i-flex Solutions, the company was acquired by Oracle in 2006). Shanx retired in 2011 as the Chief Operating Officer, Oracle Financial Services Global Business Unit (FSGBU). As a technology leader, he has also been profiled in leading trade and industry publications. In 2008, Shanx was selected as one of the 50 Outstanding Asian American business leaders. This accolade celebrates Asian business leaders and recognizes their pivotal roles in Corporate America. Shanx is an engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and has an MBA in Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India.
Get our monthly exclusive updates on the Electric Mobility ecosystem

Subscribe to Ostara Research