The electric vehicle industry is booming, but it lacks a green ecosystem

As pollution continues to engulf the country, to cope with climate change and the volatility of the international crude oil process, India is stepping up its efforts towards electric mobility.

The central government and state governments are encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles with programs such as the initial capital grant under the FAME India program, the reduction of GST on electric vehicles from 12% to 5% and the deduction of income tax on interest paid on loans taken out for the purchase of electric vehicles. . National and state electric vehicle policies and regulations are also in place.

Recently, the Department of Energy revised the Consolidated Guidelines and Standards for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. While the country stands to benefit greatly from transitioning its transportation from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric motors, there are challenges such as lack of charging infrastructure, high upfront cost and lack of electricity. produced from renewable energy.

Yet e-commerce companies, automakers, app-based transportation network companies, and mobility solution providers have entered the industry and are slowly building the capacity and visibility of electric cars.

However, one aspect that has not been given much attention is the source of electricity itself.

Electric vehicles are positioned as an alternative to conventional fuel-intensive and polluting diesel vehicles, as they have very low exhaust emissions.

However, some recent studies have pointed out that a battery electric vehicle running on green electricity will have much lower greenhouse gas emissions than a gasoline hybrid vehicle, whereas a battery electric vehicle running on carbon-intensive electricity will have higher emissions than a gasoline-powered vehicle. -motor hybrid vehicle.

Currently, electric vehicles rely on lithium-ion batteries, the manufacturing process of which carries its own environmental concerns. In places where conventional coal and gas-fired power plants are used to generate electricity, as is currently the case in the country, the carbon emissions from the production of an electric vehicle turn out to be at the same level as an ICE vehicle.

The low tailpipe emissions from electric vehicles offset these emissions from the production phase, but the upstream emissions associated with power generation and distribution must also be considered.

These upstream emissions are present in both the case of electric vehicles and ICE vehicles and their intensity depends on a number of factors such as the size and chemistry of the battery of the electric vehicle, the life of the vehicle and the electrical grid used to charge the electric vehicle, among other factors.

In India, electricity generation itself is a high-carbon exercise, with a significant portion of the electricity produced in India coming from non-renewable sources such as coal. While India is expected to have an energy surplus of 6.4% and a maximum overall surplus of 8.2% for the year 2021-22, according to the latest load generation balance report from Central Electricity Authority, 76% of it should come from conventional sources while 11% from renewable energies, 10% from hydraulics and 3% from nuclear.

So electric vehicles, instead of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reliance on fossil fuel imports, are just kind of deurbanizing it to power plants.

Until the energy issues are resolved and we actually switch to cleaner power generation technologies (renewables/nuclear), the shift to electric vehicles isn’t exactly an environmental achievement that needs to be rented. Nonetheless, it is an important step in moving our economy towards a greener and more sustainable future.

What can give a bigger leap in this evolutionary trajectory is the creation of a green ecosystem for the operation of the whole electric vehicle – from infrastructure to power generation, from infrastructure to charging for the design of new models and their recycling. Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. (EESL), as a leader in this sector, is developing electric vehicle charging infrastructure and has signed a number of MoUs in several municipalities including New Delhi City Council (NDMC), Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), The Commissioner and Director of Municipal Administration, Government of Telangana (CDMA), Chennai Metro Rail Corporation (CMRL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation (JMRL) among others.

They are also implementing a number of energy efficiency projects in other sectors. For example, EESL has initiated a large-scale program for the solarization of agricultural power supplies through the implementation of decentralized solar power plants on vacant/unused lands of DISCOM substations.

It has also carried out energy efficiency projects in more than 400 buildings, including stations and airports. This in-depth knowledge that accompanies the development of solutions in various portfolios can help create synergies within the e-mobility ecosystem.

As a starting point, EESL and the Office of Energy Efficiency (BEE), which is now the central nodal agency for the deployment of public electric vehicle charging infrastructure, can consider whether the lessons learned from these Existing projects provide efficient solutions to develop energy-efficient charging infrastructure with reduced dependence on thermal networks for electricity.

Designing electric vehicles that have added autonomous power generation capability based on renewables, such as wind power for example, some models of which are already on the market, is another green step to consider. At the same time, the industry can also focus on developing a cost-effective recycling infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Thus, new models must be designed with a broader requirement in mind and run on even more durable fuel models than those currently on the market.

Decarbonising the transport sector is one of the government’s priorities, in line with its global climate commitments to reduce projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030.

Efforts are being made to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity generation, with projections of renewable energy sources reaching 50% by 2030.

Meanwhile, the government can focus on addressing behind-the-scenes issues such as cost and environmental issues associated with manufacturing electric vehicles, scaling up charging infrastructure in emphasizing renewable energy sources and the recycling of lithium-ion batteries so that by the time the initial adoption of electric vehicles accelerates, a cleaner, greener framework is already in place.

The recent announcement of the budget for clean and sustainable mobility and a zero fossil fuel policy is a prudent step in the government’s climate action plan. Electric mobility is undoubtedly the future and the sooner we develop the ecosystem around it, the more sustainable the world will become.

(Mamta Jain is a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Finance; Rishika Choraria is an Indian Economic Services Officer and works as a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Trade and Industry)