There is finally some preparation to select consultants to chalk up a master plan for public charging stations.
Nepal Electricity Authority and the private sector have been setting up charging stations amid the country’s rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs).
But Nepal still lacks a plan for how and where to set up charging stations, and developments in the EV industry have outpaced government policy.
The Water and Energy Commission Secretariat of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation has selected a bidder to prepare the Master Plan for Public Charging Infrastructure for electric vehicles on major national highways.
On November 28, the commission issued a letter of its intent to award a contract to a joint venture—of Shrestha Consultant Pvt Ltd, the Cosmopolitan Consultant and Technical Education Centre, and the Rural Infrastructure and Management Consultant Pvt Ltd—to prepare a master plan after a thorough study. The master plan should be prepared within a year after the awarding of the contract, according to the commission.
“The master plan will make its recommendations based on the need and the availability of land, at the points on strategic roads where the charging stations can be set up,” Sushil Chandra Tiwari, secretary at the commission, told the Post. “As the government plans to promote the use of electric vehicles, we should have specific plans for mass installation of charging stations.”
He said that both the government and the private sector could install charging stations after probable locations are identified.
Even though the government has set an ambitious target on adoption of electric vehicles, little has been done in terms of policy support.
In December 2020, Nepal introduced its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for the 2021-2030 period in line with the Paris Agreement.
As per the NDC, sales of EVs in 2025 will be 25 percent of all sold private passenger vehicles, including two-wheelers, and 20 percent of all four-wheel public passenger vehicle sales.
By 2030, EV sales will make up to 90 percent of all private passenger vehicle sales, two-wheelers included, and 60 percent of all four-wheeler public passenger vehicle sales. The public passenger vehicle target does not cover electric rickshaws and electric tempos.
But insiders say lack of enough charging stations is a big challenge in promoting EVs as per the target. According to the NEA, 51 charging stations have recently been installed in various parts of the country.
“We have the target of installing an additional 500 stations across the country in the current fiscal year,” said Sagarmani Gyawali, chief of the charging station construction project at the NEA. “We are preparing to issue a tender within a month.” He said that the NEA would continue to increase the number of charging stations. “The private sector has so far installed around 200.”
These charging stations are being installed without any national plan at a time the government is yet to set any number target.
“Even though the national plan should have driven the effort to add charging stations, we are acting in view of the growing demand for EVs in the market,” said Gyawali.
According to the Department of Customs, the country imported a total of 4,050 assembled electric vehicles in the fiscal year 2022-23, which is more than double the units imported in the previous year. Nepal had imported 1,807 electric four-wheelers in 2021-22. In addition, 6,914 three wheelers were imported last fiscal year, according to the customs data.
In the first four months of the current fiscal year (2023-24), Nepal imported 2,787 units of EVs, up 174 percent year-on-year, according to the customs department.
“The demand for EVs is soaring. Market enquiries are beating expectations,” Dhurba Thapa, president of the Nepal Automobile Dealers’ Association, told the Post last week. According to him, the sales ratio of EVs to internal combustion engine vehicles is now 60:40.
Stakeholders said considering people’s interest in electric vehicles, the existing charging infrastructure is nowhere close to meeting demand. “There are only around 250 charging stations in the country, said Gyawali.
The government also acknowledges that many individuals are still reluctant to adopt electric vehicles citing reliability issues, which again has to do with the availability of reliable charging stations on the roads, among other reasons.
Studies show that lack of charging stations is a major barrier to adoption of electric vehicles. Most EV owners often have ‘range anxiety’. They are mostly anxious about limited battery capacity, the commission said in its Expression of Interest notice.
This master plan intends to bridge the charging infrastructure gap by establishing a robust network of fast charging stations along major highways, it said.
Source: The Kathmandu Post ( Prithvi Man Shrestha)