In Singapore, the use of electric vehicles (EVs) is encouraged as part of the country’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable transportation. To support the adoption of EVs, the government has implemented a set of regulations for charging infrastructure and EV charging services.
In November 2022, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) introduced the EV Charging Bill for First Reading in Parliament to regulate the safe charging of EVs, to ensure the provision of reliable EV charging services, and to expand the network of accessible charging infrastructure in Singapore.
This is in line with the nation’s target to deploy 60,000 charging points by 2030, and for all vehicles to be of cleaner energy by 2040.
The EV Charging Bill will establish rules and regulations that will govern the charging of EVs, and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be empowered with statutory powers for enforcement. This would include establishing clear technical and performance standards that all EV chargers must meet to be supplied or used.
Scope of the EV Charging Bill
The EV Charging Bill will cover two types of EV chargers: fixed chargers (including battery charge, swap stations and pantograph chargers), as well as non-fixed chargers.
Meanwhile, chargers that are exclusively designed for charging non-EVs such as personal mobility devices, power-assisted bicycles, electric vessels or electric aircrafts, will not be covered under the Bill.
To minimise the proliferation of unregulated or ill-maintained chargers which can pose safety hazards, the Bill will provide LTA with powers to regulate the supply, modification, advertisement, installation, certification, registration, use, and maintenance of EV chargers.
The Bill will require all chargers in Singapore to be installed, certified, and used in accordance with prescribed standards, which will reference standards such as Technical Reference 25 (TR25) for Electric Vehicle Charging Systems, and Singapore Standard 638 Code of Practice for Electrical Installations.
Chargers must also be registered before they can be used.
Upon registration, the registered responsible person will be issued a registration code for the charger, and must affix a registration mark on the charger. Registered chargers will also need to be inspected regularly in accordance with the relevant standards.
Where does mobile EV chargers stand in this Bill?
According to LTA, mobile EV chargers, which are relatively nascent, will be considered as non-fixed chargers.
It added that since they are currently not covered by TR25 or any international standards, mobile EV chargers will not be allowed to be used after the transitional period upon commencement of the Bill.
This raises the questions of what will then happen to mobile EV charging operators in Singapore?
Local car dealer Wearnes Automotive, which is also the official and sole distributor of Polestar EVs in Singapore, had recently started a pilot for its mobile EV charging services.
As part of the service, the firm will dispatch an electric Kangoo van retrofitted with a device from local battery maker Durapower, and a mere 10-minute charge can last about 30km.
“Our understanding [of the EV legal framework] is that suppliers of non-registered/certified chargers have six months to continue operating, which is reasonable, whether for fixed or non-fixed chargers. Our AC and DC mobile chargers are both TR25 and LNO approved, hence it should be business as usual [for us],” said Sabrina Sng, Managing Director of Wearnes Automotive.
In fact, she sees this as an “affirming step” by the authorities to broaden the charging infrastructure network, especially by mandating more chargers in new buildings and also lowering the condo approval threshold to 50 per cent.
“This would make it easier to get approval for EV charger installation at condos, a common bugbear among condo dwellers,” she said.
Sng added that problems could arise if EV charging is not properly regulated. For instance, the power supply in some buildings may not be sufficient to facilitate charger installations, which could impede the charging network development and hence, potentially slow down EV adoption.
“Chargers, if not certified or maintained, could also be incompatible with the infrastructure and hence [become] unusable,” she elaborated.
With the new Bill, Sng believes that it will help expedite the development of Singapore’s charging infrastructure, widen the network, and give consumers more assurance and confidence that there are sufficient chargers islandwide to meet their needs.
In turn, she expects to see “a more rapid rate of EV acceptance and adoption”, though she recognises that since Singapore’s EV infrastructure is still new, there’s plenty of work that needs to be done before EVs become more prevalent.
Licensing of EV charging operators
To ensure a satisfactory user experience, it is important to ensure that the public charging network is reliable.
EV charging operators refer to businesses that provide EV charging services, such as hiring out a fixed EV charger, providing battery swapping services, or renting out a non-fixed EV charger.
Under the Bill, they will be required to obtain a licence in order to provide the service, which will be valid for a fixed period and can be renewed.
Licensees will have to comply with conditions such as data sharing, purchasing of public liability insurance, and maintaining the service uptimes of their chargers in their network.
Asked to comment on this requirement, Sng feels that it is “reasonable” in order to ensure the usability of chargers belonging to EV operators who have been awarded the tender.
“Given that we are in the early stages of EV adoption, data sharing on charging behaviour and patterns would definitely help optimise the usage and manage surges in demand at peak periods,” she explained.
The Bill also provides for transitional arrangements for the industry and members of the public to comply with the legislation. Upon commencement of the Bill, existing suppliers can continue to supply non-approved EV chargers for six months.
Existing EV chargers that are not registered can continue to be used for six months after the commencement of the Bill, while existing EV charging operators can carry on their operations without a licence for 12 months after the commencement of the Bill.
MOT and LTA will work with the industry to facilitate these transitional arrangements.
A spokesperson from LTA said that LTA will continue to engage the EV charging industry and monitor the development of new and innovative charging solutions, and update its charging standards when necessary.
“LTA will also consider innovative charging solutions that are not currently covered by TR25, but which have the potential to contribute to the accessibility of our charging network in a safe manner, under the ‘Specially Authorised EV Charger’ regime. LTA will facilitate trials for such solutions should they receive applications and assess the solutions to be suitable,” added the spokesperson.
Featured Image Credit: SP Group