Key role for private investors in EV charging facilities

MUSCAT, JAN 20 – The Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman (AER) has pledged to work with key stakeholders in the formulation of a regulatory and commercial framework that will make it attractive for private investors to deliver the charging infrastructure necessary to support and sustain the introduction of private Electric Vehicles (EV) in the Sultanate.
The Authority’s Executive Director, Qais Saud al Zakwani (pictured), said the private sector was ideally positioned to invest in charging facilities and the support infrastructure necessary to fuel the adoption of Electric Vehicles. He cited in this regard an understandable reluctance by the government to subsidize the Electric Vehicle space, given the already substantial subsidy enjoyed by the electricity sector in the Sultanate.
“We want the private sector to lead most of the development and we want that not only as a result of the need to reduce the burden on public funds, we want it because we believe that the private sector is better equipped to make decisions as to which types of infrastructure customers will want (and be prepared to pay for),” said the official.
Delivering the keynote address at the ‘e-Mobility Forum’ at the Grand Hormuz Hotel yesterday, the Executive Director however promised to review the case for public sector support for “some limited infrastructure”, potentially along one or more strategic corridor routes, such as the Batinah Expressway, for example, and some remote areas as well. Coverage in populous areas of the country, however, would be left to the private sector to develop, he noted.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Electric Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities — the Electricity Regulator’s Perspective’, Al Zakwani also vowed a number of steps to support the introduction of low-carbon transportation options. The Authority, he said, would work with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to set out the relevant metering and technical standards for charging facilities.
Additionally, it would review the need for tariff modifications to encourage home charging of electric vehicles at times when the impacts on network and generation capacity can be most efficiently managed.
Furthermore, the Authority would work with electricity distribution companies to review the impact of electric vehicles on network stability, especially in comparison with comparable regional environments, which also have high air conditioning load and primarily 3-phase connection.
Earlier, Al Zakwani welcomed initiatives by some fuel marketing companies, hotels and malls to set up EV charging facilities at key locations in the Sultanate. However, he stressed that much more would need to be done, particularly to address ‘driver range anxiety’, which refers to fears expressed by EV owners that they may run out of battery power before they reach their destination or the next charging station. Besides, existing fuel stations on major carriageways would need to be retrofitted as well, he noted.
The official cautioned against any hope that the government would likely invest in public charging infrastructure.
“Oman today already spends considerable sums subsidizing its electricity sector and there is, little appetite for major additions to the subsidy budget, even if much of the investment could later be recouped by charging customers cost reflective prices for the provision of the electricity and the related charging and parking facilities,” said Al Zakwani.
“We simply have to think in a more imaginative manner and we have to create the conditions that will encourage the private sector to help us. I would also note that in most other jurisdictions internationally most of the infrastructure has been provided by the private sector,” he added.
The day-long forum was organised by Global EVRT with the support of Riyada, GUtech, ENEL Foundation, CleanTechnica, Nama Group and YallaMotor.