Zero emissions and lower carbon footprint are key motivations for Electrical Vehicle (EV) adoption for mobility globally. The charging infrastructure is integral to EV adoption since it addresses key consumer concerns. Typically, battery costs are almost 50% of the initial vehicle costs; hence, battery swapping provides a viable alternative and accelerator to encourage consumer adoption while being a fillip to the charging infrastructure.
This multi part blog aims to introduce and discuss the concept of battery swapping technology as a supplement to setting up charging infrastructure, key challenges, and potential solutions to address them. We look at the multi-dimensional benefits that battery swapping systems could provide for various stakeholders – Consumers, Energy Operators and Power/Utility companies.
We also discuss the technology behind battery swapping, the challenges, key societal, technological, economic and policy related factors to accelerate adoption, and how, when done right will significantly boost the charging infrastructure in the country. Operating model of a few prominent battery swapping players and global implementations are discussed to understand and share best practices.
Battery Swapping Systems – A brief overview
Battery swapping reduces upfront cost, as batteries can be leased, or a pay-as-you-use model can be utilized to deliver higher performance owing to a controlled charging method. The components of a battery swapping system are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Battery Swapping System Conceptual View
The entities involved in BSS are an Energy Operator (EO), BSS (Battery Swap Station), Battery Recharging Center (BRC), and of course, the customer . Depending on the need and complexity of each region, multiple BSS stations can be monitored and managed by a control center. The process is initiated by the customer requesting a battery swap – reserve a swap or for an on-demand swap. Based on the requests, the EO can optimize the swapping requests. Once the request is accepted at the BSS station, the battery is swapped, and the depleted battery is assigned to the to-be charged battery batch. The depleted battery is then scheduled for full charging, depending on the location of the recharging center. The EO will manage the logistics, and once fully charged the battery is again available for swapping.
Benefits of Battery Swapping
The benefits of BSS systems are multi-dimensional for the consumers, power sector and Eos, as illustrated in Figure 2. Examining each stakeholder groups in detail – the consumers benefit from a similar experience to fuel stations, easing the transition, minimizing wait time reducing anxiety, reducing upfront EV cost, and enabling BaaS as a subscription model. In addition, minimizing downtime and improving battery life and performance are important benefits for the commercial segment. Lastly, the innovation cycles from the OEMs and Tier 1s are expected to develop longer lasting and cost-effective batteries.
Figure 2: Battery Swapping System Stakeholder Benefits
The utility and power sectors are expected to gain these benefits from EV charging – an increase in their revenue streams from higher consumption, balance in the electricity demand since battery recharge centers can operate during off-peak hours, integrate renewable energy sources for battery charging, repurpose batteries after the threshold is crossed for other purposes. Lastly, the recharging opportunity can be explored to optimize utility assets.
The EO who sets up and maintains the BSS will enable new business opportunities and improve land utilization by identifying small parcels such as land under flyovers and other areas. The societal impact of battery swapping is to create a channel for innovation in the EV charging space by embracing new technology. Other benefits include an impetus to the Small, Medium Enterprises (MSME) to establish a new business network and encourage localization.
The next part of the blog we will explore –
· Battery Swapping Technology
· Key Challenges & How to Accelerate the Adoption
This blog was co-authored by : Dr. Sreekanta Guptha BP & Vinod Venkateswaran