- Mojo Green: Accelerating clean energy and EV revolution through innovative energy storage
The startup’s unique battery-integrated technology combines EV fast charging, renewable energy integration and demand-side management
Mojo Green’s pilots with fleet operators to gain insights into their requirements
While India’s economic prosperity is tied to its enormous dependence on coal and other fossil fuels, of late, there has been a push by the government for the production, distribution and adoption of renewable energy. According to Climate Action Tracker, India is the only major country in the world to have taken steps to combat emissions with the goal of restricting global warming to an average of 2 degree Celsius.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari’s announcement that India is on its way to become the top electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing hub reaffirms the government’s commitment to fight climate change and bat for clean air. Gadkari believes that with the country “producing surplus power, it is time for Indian economy to use electric as power”.
However, we are still struggling to increase the number of electric cars on the roads. One of the main barriers to Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption is ‘range anxiety’. There are only 3181 charging stations set up by the central government under its Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) I and II schemes.
The biggest challenge in scaling-up fast charging is infrastructure limitations — extremely high power is required for fast charging at scale but enhancing the electric grid in places where electric vehicles will need to charge is prohibitively expensive and complicated.
Mojo Green Founders Harshith Talasila and Dhilly Babu
Sensing an opportunity in this demand-supply chasm, a two-year-old firm tries to break new ground with a novel fast-charging solution. Founded by Dhilly Babu and Harshith Talasila, the Bengaluru-based start-up Mojo Green offers powerful battery-integrated charger that delivers fast charging while significantly reducing installation and operational costs.
What’s the technology
Mojo Green smartly combines battery storage, charging technology and intelligent software to deliver fast charging experience. “Its USP is that it works with existing low power infrastructure, reduces energy charges by peak shaving or demand shifting and can be deployed without any expensive, time-consuming infrastructural upgrades,” says Dhilly.
The battery charges slowly overnight or under off peak hours and discharges power to an EV at a much faster rate even during peak hours. It’s an electric flush-tank concept where the input is a trickle but the output is a steady gush, explains Dhilly. The idea is to store energy when it is cheaper and not needed and use it when required and is expensive.
The battery charges slowly overnight and discharges power at a much faster rate even during peak hours
“Our objective is to enable acceleration of clean energy and electric mobility through innovative energy storage systems” he says.
Energy storage is critical because the biggest impediment to scaling up and deploying a large number of charging facilities is the limited availability of power at the consumer end. Power infrastructure needed to fast charge a single vehicle is equivalent to the infrastructure needed to operate a large retail store such as a fuel station or a cafe. Deploying high power infrastructure at scale for charging a fleet of EVs at the grid edge is going to be an uphill task for the power utilities.
In the long run, when subsidies and incentives are withdrawn and RoI becomes a major concern for providers, these factors would end up making charging expensive and unviable for the consumers.
Mojo’s fast-charging solution is compact and mobile. It can be stationed at accessible locations such as petrol pumps, corporate tech parks, retail showrooms and shopping centres or can be carried onto a pick-up truck to the consumer’s destination for road-assistance or doorstep charging needs.
Its charger-in-a-box concept packages all the complexities of a traditional fast charging station including transformer, cables, electrical points, metering, batteries and software into a simple box.
There are multiple layers of software and analytics designed for advanced battery management, user control and remote monitoring. Through a mobile application, a user can scan the QR code and charge the vehicle. A simple dash-board offers necessary information to charging station providers or fleet operators to control and monitor charging sessions.
Testing the waters
Mojo has run multiple pilots with fleet operators to gain insights into their requirements. The feedback has helped in enhancing product design, performance and identifying convenient locations for charging stations. “Currently, we offer 50 KW charging speeds and plan to deploy our next version of the product with 100 KW+ charging capabilities. It will help us cater to existing EV models as well as the upcoming ones. The product further provides advanced capabilities including supporting EV charging even when grid power is unavailable; offers demand side management and analytics to reduce overall energy costs and support integration with on-site renewable sources” says Dhilly, adding that his startup has installed battery-operated chargers in Bengaluru.
Mojo has multiple deployments planned with key stakeholders in the next 3–6 months including a large oil & gas utility, a power distribution company and a vehicle manufacturer. However, Covid has put a spanner in the works, delaying several other pilots.
The current business model of selling power is scalable, says Dhilly but the high upfront cost has forced the founders to explore bundled energy services and cost-efficient ways such as using second-life batteries and integrating battery energy storage systems with renewable energy.
“With solar integration, energy storage becomes economical at homes, offices and other retail locations and can also be used as reliable power back-up services when needed. This is the big picture for us, where innovative energy storage systems can solve multiple use cases beyond EV charging” he says.
Mojo has a small team, spearheaded by the founders. Harshith, with a strong power electronics background, drives product development. Dhilly looks after the business side, having been a part of the founding team of a couple of startups in rural healthcare and financial analytics, earlier.
Electric vehicle adoption in India is expected to cumulatively reduce 5.4 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) of oil demand, resulting in a net decrease of 170 petajoules (PJ) of energy and 7.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over the vehicles’ lifetime (NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute, 2019)
“Mojo’s clean energy focus though is not limited to reducing CO2 emissions or decarbonizing our future. Electric mobility is expected to create 120,000 new jobs in the sector, open-up demand for new skills and opportunities such as technicians to manage and service EVs and charging stations,” says Harshith, the co-founder.
Air pollution, driven by the transport sector, is also a significant health hazard, it’s a significant risk factor for chronic and cardiovascular diseases in India and is responsible for 40% premature death for chronic patients.
“We at Mojo see this as a platform towards improving the livelihoods of millions of people, their quality of life, their health, and the environment,” he says.
Social Alpha’s role
“Even before the startup was formed, Manoj, the founder of Social Alpha, has been a source of encouragement and support for me. Back then, two-and-a-half years ago, we were exploring multiple problem statements to solve and their potential social impact in the long run. Things firmed up when Harshith came on board. Along the way, Social Alpha gave us a place to work, provided financial support to build the proof of concept and is now helping us with the pilots,” says Dhilly.
“When Dhilly Babu approached Manoj to discuss a potential career opportunity, the latter, sensing a spark in him, offered an entrepreneurial alternative. Dhilly became one of the early recipients of Social Alpha’s Entrepreneurship-in-Residence (EiR) programme and a success story,” says Suhail Shaikh, Programme Manager, EIR and E4I, at Social Alpha.
“Since clean energy and climate-change mitigation are highly important focus areas for Social Alpha, it was but natural that Mojo Green received a great deal of support from us,” says Suhail.
At the very beginning of this association, when Dhilly Babu was still researching and shortlisting problem statements, scouting technologies, and looking for partnerships, Manoj believed in his sense of purpose, skin-in-the-game approach and prior technology innovation experience, says Suhail. “He guided Dhilly Babu on business strategy, partnership challenges, and pilot hurdles,” he adds.
Social Alpha provided Dhilly financial support and introduced him to a network for potential partnership for pilots and tech-transfers. This sort of support encourages innovators to pursue entrepreneurial risk taking. The EiR programme has the potential to become a launchpad for innovators and entrepreneurs looking to play a catalytic role in the science and deep tech ecosystem with the purpose of solving some of the complex socio-economic and environmental problems.
Social Alpha will continue to support mission-driven innovators like Dhilly Babu who are willing to take entrepreneurial risks at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey, including market access and scaleup.
- Date of publication:
- Fri, 06/11/2021 - 02:52
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