ABB Developing Solar Charging Stations for E-Rickshaws in Jabalpur


ABB is teaming up with transportation officials in the city of Jabalpur to help create a network of solar-powered charging stations that will be used to power e-rickshaws. ABB has agreed to supply solar inverters that will be used to convert direct current (DC) energy to alternating current (AC) energy that will be used for the chargers.

The project comes as transportation officials in Jabalpur, a smart city of nearly 1.6 million, are encouraging the adoption of a new generation of quiet, zero-emissions electric rickshaws.  The city has engaged with ABB to make the e-rickshaws viable.

Under Jabalpur’s pilot project, local authorities are planning to set up nine solar-powered charging stations to be used by the 400 or so licensed e-rickshaw owners in the city. The first station came online six months ago. The others are scheduled to be up and running next year.

“We appreciate this government initiative,’’ said ABB’s Santosh Belekar. “This is a trend-setter, I would say, in any smart city.”

As part of the smart-cities effort, the Indian government has set a goal of making every car, bus, truck, and other modes of transport in the country electric by 2030.

E-rickshaws, introduced in India in 2008, can do their part by providing an emissions-free, noiseless mode of transport. They are a vital cog in the last mile connectivity as majority of the population still depends on them for those last two to three kilometers. The lack of affordable, publicly accessible charging stations has been a barrier to the greater widespread adoption of e‑rickshaws. This move by Jabalpur transportation officials will support the faster adoption of e‑rickshaws.

“Only once we have this infrastructure in place can we make a case for people to migrate to electric,” said Sachin Vishwakarma, CEO of Jabalpur City Transport Services, the agency that is overseeing the charging stations.

The charging stations, capable of generating 50 kW of electricity, can serve as many as four WHAT e‑rickshaws simultaneously. It takes between 7 to 8 hours for a full recharge session, which then enables the vehicle to travel 100 to 150 kilometers.

The e-rickshaw owner’s price for recharging from the grid would be ₹40-50 (~$0.60-0.77), compared with ₹30 (~$0.46) from the solar charging station, according to Vishwakarma.

According to a recent Mercom report, the Government of India is planning to provide up to ₹1.05 billion (~$16.2 million) in grant funding to Smart Cities for the purchase of EVs to be used for mass transportation under a pilot project run under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) program.

Image credit: By Vikram.goenka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons