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Home » ZERO EMISSION VEHICLES (ZEVs)

ZERO EMISSION VEHICLES (ZEVs)

ZERO EMISSION VEHICLES (ZEVs)

GS Paper 3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Biodiversity- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.

 

Historically, mobility and fossil fuels have been inextricably linked with electric vehicles being successful only in a few niche markets. However, over the last decade, a collection of circumstances have conspired to create an opening for electric mobility to enter the mass market.

 

Objectives of the EV Policy

  • Reduce primary oil consumption in transportation.
  • Facilitate customer adoption of electric and clean energy vehicles.
  • Encourage cutting edge technology in India through adoption, adaptation, and research and development.
  • Improve transportation used by the common man for personal and goods transportation.
  • Reduce pollution in cities.
  • Create EV manufacturing capacity that is of global scale and competitiveness.
  • Facilitate employment growth in a sun-rise sector.

 

The relevance of ZEVs

  • Climatic change: The prospect of rapid global temperature increase has created the need for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the associated emissions. India has committed to cutting its GHG emissions intensity by 33% to 35% percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Advances in renewable energy: Over the last decade, advances in wind and solar electricity generation technologies have drastically reduced their cost and introduced the possibility of clean, low-carbon and inexpensive grids. India proposes to add 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2020 and to achieve 40 percent of its electricity generation from non-fossil sources by the same year. 
  • Rapid urbanization: While urbanization is an important component of the process of economic development, it also stresses upon the energy and transport infrastructure leading to congestion and pollution. According to a recent study by WHO, India is home to 14 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world. Electric vehicles (EVs) can improve that scenario by reducing local concentrations of pollutants in cities.
  • Battery chemistry: Advances in battery technology have led to higher energy densities, faster charging and reduced battery degradation from charging. Combined with the development of motors with higher rating and reliability, these improvements in battery chemistry have reduced costs and improved the performance and efficiency of electric vehicles.
  • Energy security: The petrol, diesel and CNG needed to fuel an internal combustion engine (ICE) based mobility system requires an extensive costly supply chain that is prone to disruption from weather, geopolitical events and other factors. India needs to import oil to cover over 80 percent of its transport fuel. That ratio is set to grow as a rapidly urbanizing population demands greater intra-city and inter-city mobility.

 

The Indian Scenario

In India, a particular set of circumstances which are conducive to a sustainable mobility paradigm have created an opportunity for accelerated adoption of EVs over ICE vehicles. These are: 

  • A relative abundance of exploitable renewable energy resources.
  • High availability of skilled manpower and technology in manufacturing and IT software.
  • An infrastructure and consumer transition that affords opportunities to apply technologies to leapfrog stages of development.
  • A universal culture that accepts and promotes sharing of assets and resources for the overall common good.

 

Making EVs economically viable

  • Providing charging infrastructure: The limiting factor of batteries on driving range may be addressed by developing an ecosystem of fast-charging or swapping of batteries, by creating an infrastructure, maybe even every kilometre, in dense areas. A smaller battery will lower costs by reducing the total weight of the vehicle, resulting in higher energy-efficiency and improved ability to upgrade as the technology evolves.
  • Increasing efficiency of vehicles: Incentivising developments to increase vehicle efficiency, thereby reducing energy consumption, can enable to a vehicle to travel the same distance on a smaller battery pack. Energy efficiency can be enhanced by using more efficient electric motors using better tyres, enhancing the aero dynamics of the vehicles and reducing its weight. This would reduce battery size needed for a certain range. 
  • Exploring new battery chemistries: Focussing on materials like lithium, manganese, nickel, cobalt and graphite that are used in batteries and determine its costs. While it is important to secure mines which produce these materials, India must also obtain these battery materials through recycling of used batteries and should aim to become the capital of “urban mining” of used batteries.

 

Conclusion

India has over 170 million two-wheelers. If we assume that each of these vehicles uses a little more than half a litre of petrol per day or about 200 litres per year, the total amount of petrol used by such vehicles is about 34 billion litres. At ₹70 per litre, this would cost about ₹2.4 lakh crores. Even if we assume that 50% of this is the cost of imported crude (as tax and other may be 50%), one may save ₹1.2 lakh crores worth of imported oil.

                                        India has a lot to gain by converting its ICE vehicles to EVs at the earliest. Its oil-import bill would considerably reduce. ICE vehicles are a major contributor to pollution in cities and their replacement with EVs will definitely improve air quality.

 

Previous Year Questions

  1. Write a note on India’s green energy corridor to alleviate the problem of conventional energy.  (2013)