How far and green is India's EV scenario?

TOPICS :   Environment
Mar 11 , 2020 15 min read 918 Views Likes 0 Comments
How far and green is India's EV scenario?

Countries, in order to decrease the rate of climate change, are running scores of research and development programs to introduce greener measures such as renewable sources of energy and electric mobility. Needless to say, the most sensible order to proceed is renewable energy resources followed by electric mobility. Therefore, any nation has to ensure considerable renewable energy installation to keep the electric mobility green (prevent electric vehicles to indirectly running on fossil fuel).

Quite similar is the situation in India. Ranking 3rd, India is accountable for 6% of world’s carbon footprint most of which, besides road transportation, comes from the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity.

As per Indian government records 2018-19, power grid’s energy mix includes nearly 60% of fossil fuel based thermal power. So when it is about achieving electric mobility by the year 2030, it all might not be as it seem.

Greener and quieter electric vehicles (EV) sound lot prettier with an unexpected mileage of Rs 1.1 for a mile but possibility of (a) introduction of EVs overloading the national power grid and as a result (b) tackling the energy burden through coal and natural gas based thermal power plants, is high. Possibility (a) rests on a general raise in demand of EVs whereas (b) is backed by lack of crucial renewable energy infrastructure, though the government says to have been doing its utmost by merely setting targets.

To prevent EV sector from indirectly buoying up the use of fossil fuels, the government needs to put in place a pertinent framework.

A key measure in the framework is to balance the renewable energy installations across states. For instance, EVs plying in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu would be genuinely eco-friendly than the EVs running anywhere else. In these states the renewable energy proportions are comparatively high, though not at their highest potential.

Not mentioning the strong 1.5 million E-Rickshaws shuttling on Indian roads since 2010 would not do justice to India’s EV market. Though the number makes India the top EV seller but little do we know yet. More than 90% of E-Rickshaws are sold by unorganized and unregulated manufacturers. What gave this lot a push is the dime-a-dozen per unit cost.

One can buy a single unit for as low as Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000 bucks. In reality, E-Rickshaws cost equivalent to a life; may be more than one. The free willed manufacturers use a lead acid battery which contaminates air with lead dust and can be fatal to anyone in proximity.

No wonder this lead contamination adding to NCR’s air quality as more than half of 1.5 million ply here.

Besides EVs’ ecological aspect, state-wise power tariff disparity also affects their charging costs. Running an EV would be expensive in states with high per unit costs –charging an EV in Maharashtra or Punjab would be two times that in Uttar Pradesh. This is so because states have powers to fix tariffs for the generating stations within their geographical jurisdiction.

Viability of EVs in India also hinges to the introductory cost per unit. While, soon to go under scrutiny, E-Rickshaws cost no more than Rs. 60,000 a unit, the electric family car isn’t seemingly a relief on buyer’s bankroll.

With only 9% of population owing a car, canny car buyers of India decide on the basis of an order preferences-upfront cost on top followed by economy and only some care about user experience forget reducing carbon emissions.

Statistics firm, Statista reported more than 80% of car buyers in 2018-19 bought a car costing below Rs. 6.5 Lakh.

Claiming to have received orders for 300 units, EV Hyundai Kona, India’s debut at Electric cars, is priced little under Rs.24 Lakh. The Korean car company, about limited orders, says the batteries are still supplied from its headquarters in Seoul. The battery of an electric vehicle costs around 40% of the whole and importing only acts as a headwind in the dawning industry since India is yet to see the indigenous mass production of EV specific lithium ion batteries.

Eventually, car makers are reluctant in rolling out EVs. Eyeing to debut in EV segment with units priced within sub-million rupee bracket are Tata Motors and Mahindra&Mahindra. Though aspirations are high, both the auto makers haven’t yet hit the markets.

Meanwhile the budget carmaker, Maruti Suzuki is gauging the mood of the masses as in how likely are car buyers to use an EV.

This is not all turning green to grey. In addition to the heedless implementation of use of CNG as fuel prior to electricity attracted bad vibe, divestment of trillions of dollars and laying off thousands of workers at gas stations for instance, follows as India steps up to completely embrace e-mobility in 2030. The number of auto components used in an IC (internal combustion/ diesel/petrol) car is 150% that used in an electric vehicle. Getting rid of 50% of inutile components will go down taxing on manufacturers unless they upgrade for an EV’s component.

Though combustion engines emit carbon, they are the biggest consumers of refineries and with a switch to e-mobility these refineries are set to find themselves in a pickle unless they gradually start selling renewable energy


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