Daily global CO2 emission level currently stands at 406.47 ppm (parts per million globally). Taking the hints from deteriorating environment, and identifying fossil fuel generation and consumption to be the primary reason for CO2 increase, the world is quickly adopting green energy. Since, global transport system plays a major role in adding to the CO2 levels, it is very important to bring the green energy utilization in transport systems as soon as possible. Since Solar energy has gained world wide acceptance due to its feasibility, easy to install, and reliability, solar energy growth and EV growth have become interconnected.
EV and Solar Energy Growth are Interconnected
Since India has made huge strides in renewable industry development, the country is considered to be an ideal platform for Electric Vehicle (EV) market growth. It is important to highlight that, 10 cities from top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India, and a third of PM (particulate matter) pollution in India is from transportation sources. Additionally, in 2015-16 India’s crude oil imports are more than 80% amounting to $81.5 billion, and transport sector is the biggest consumer of crude oil with usage of 70% of diesel and 99.6% of petrol. Therefore, focusing on EV market growth depending on renewable energy (especially solar) would help India save billions of forex outflow, and reduce dependency in fossil fuels.
Understanding the requirements, states in India are showing interest by releasing state policies.
- Maharashtra released an EV policy providing many incentives for consumers, manufacturers and charging service providers.
- Karnataka released an Electric vehicle and Energy storage policy to attract investments in manufacturing of electric vehicles and batteries.
- Other states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have come up with draft EV policy.
Indian Policies for EV’s
Although India is showing effort in developing & supporting market for EV, challenges do exist. And India needs to identify them to solve the problems.
Lack of Charging Infrastructure:
- People are often concerned about range of EV (range anxiety). Enough number of charging infrastructures are required to keep this from becoming a reason behind failure of EV embedment in the transport sector.
- Currently the EV’s available in India provide a range of 100 km per charge. This range have to be increased with more investment and tech innovation within the energy storage market.
- Lack of solar charging infrastructure. Research shows that India has nearly 350 renewable public EV chargers, while the number of petrol stations stand at 57,000. If we are to compare with China, we will see that China installed around 215,000 charging points at the end of 2016. In the same breath, we can point out that if Solar panels cover 0.5 percent of Rajasthan, can generate power for 330 million EVs. Delays in installing more solar charging stations is keeping India’s first EV procurement plan in limbo.
- Government is taking steps to solve this problem, Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has released a RFP for 10,000 EV’s and 1000 Fast charging stations (60-90 min for charging) and 3000 slow charging stations (5-6 hours for charging) and already tendered the first phase. These chargers can be used by public.
- Although, India has now power surplus for the first time, load shedding and power outages are still common. Charging stations need reliable power source to make EV usage convenient. However, there is still no comprehensive policy supporting and clarifying nationwide renewable energy based charging infrastructure. A new policy is required to focus on this, with amendment of nation’s Electricity Act, which only allows distributors to sell power, including for electric-vehicle charging stations.
- Electricity Act forbids companies without distribution license to sell electricity. This restricts development of charging infrastructure. Currently, the government is taking steps to implement the charging as a service model to aid in EV adoption.
- One of the reasons for lack of charging infrastructure is confusion of charging standards. India has recently decided to back off from implementing an EV policy, thus paving the way for the market to decide on charging standard and keep pace with the global technology advancement.
- Battery swapping is an option to keep the turn-around time (TAT) for charging down to few minutes without investing a lot on fast charging infrastructure. This is especially suited for 3 wheelers (which is the backbone of last mile connectivity in India) and buses (where big batteries would take long times to charge). However, there are many issues to iron out, eg. – ownership and standardization of batteries, safeguard against theft etc. Pilots are the need of the hour to try out various business models centred on battery swapping.
Increased grid load due to EV charging
- As the country is striving to attain prosperity, the grid system is being stretched to its limit. Renewable energy has already put stress on the grid with its intermittent nature and EVs would further aggravate the issue. In areas with high EV penetration, transformers need to be replaced to accommodate the enhanced load due to charging. Discoms may show resistance to this as renewing the infrastructure would incur huge investment and effort. One way to support this cause in a way that does not harm Discoms is to have Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) to kick in when loads exceed at night owing to EVs plugging in to charge. The BESS can be charged by renewable sources like solar to make the overall city greener. This solution already makes good economic sense with falling prices of Li ion batteries and solar panels.
High capital cost
- Even though the Total Cost of Ownership of an EV over it’s lifetime (cost per km travelled) will be much lower (more than half for taxis) than that of petrol vehicles the capital cost of EVs is higher. This is one of the reasons for lower adoption of EVs. Government is trying to decrease the capital cost by providing incentives through FAME.
Ambiguity on central policy
Although many states are releasing state level policies, there is ambiguity on central EV policy. Recent developments indicate that there will be no central EV policy, the onus is on the market to decide the EV path for the country. It can be said that lack of central policy will not stop the EV revolution, but it may slow the pace of adoption through ambiguity and confusion.
Electric vehicles and residential/commercial solar power stations can serve and aid growth of each other. With solar energy becoming mainstream energy source world wide, potential for EVs using solar energy is high. It is suspected that India’s energy import bill will rise from $150 billion to $300 billion by 2030. Keeping this scenario in mind, it is fair to say that the country’s shift to solar power generation and electric vehicles is the best and actually, the only move left.
Change Is At the Door
The global EV market is growing rapidly and countries like China, US, Canada, Japan and the EU is showing great response in adopting EV to replace their fossil fuel powered transport system (see Table 1).
Source: Bloomberg, 2017
For example, EV growth China is powered by Tax credits, Sales tax exemption, Circulation Tax exemptions, Rebates at registration/sale and other similar financial incentives. Among regulatory incentives, there are facilities like-
- Registration of the car without lottery system
- Access to restricted traffic zones
Such options and initiatives should be considered as guidelines for India to help the country grow at a faster rate in implementing green energy utilization system within its existing infrastructure. It looks certain that India will join the EV bandwagon through electrifying its public transport system – buses, taxis and 3 wheelers. People will start buying EVs once the solar charging infrastructure is in place and upfront cost of EVs has come down.
According to the policy on EV, the near-term 2020 target highlights getting at least 6 million electric vehicles on the road. However, to achieve that, the county needs to invest in Solar growth more rapidly than ever.
The facts, the results, and the choices are right in front of Government of India. The only responsibility we all have is to promptly make a decision and support it to see our country join the world in green energy revolution.
ICE = Internal Combustion Engine
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