Renewable energy critical for powering Indian EVs
Electric Vehicles

Renewable energy critical for powering Indian EVs

The EV market in India will be a US $206 billion opportunity by 2030 if India maintains steady progress to meet its ambitious 2030 target

  • By Rahul Koul | May 02, 2023

Despite the fact that the widespread adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is equally puzzling that the electricity used to charge such vehicles most often comes from conventional fuels like coal and natural gas. Therefore, for EVs to fully realize their potential as a clean transportation option in such a scenario, a reliable charging infrastructure and renewable energy sources are a must.

Particularly in the Indian context, the carbon emissions associated with electricity generation are well above the global average as the country widely employs coal-fired power plants to generate its electricity. This electricity is subsequently utilized to charge EVs, which means India too is not yet harnessing the potential power of consumers switching from conventional vehicles to EVs to reduce carbon emissions.

The Green Energy Open Access Rules 2022 notified by the Ministry of Power enables consumers to purchase green energy (minimum 100 kilowatts) directly from renewable energy producers, paving the way to charging EVs using renewable energy in India. With India’s plan of reaching 30% electric vehicle sales by 2030 while ensuring a green transition, it is key to accelerate the adoption of EVs along with scaling up of renewable energy-based EV charging mechanisms.

To reap the optimal benefit of switching to EVs, the carbon emissions intensity in the electricity grid needs to be lower - from the current 725 grams of CO2 per kilowatt‐hour (g CO2/kWh) to 700 g CO2/kWh or less. With India’s COP26 conference announcement that it intends to scale its non-fossil fuel generation to 500 GW by 2030, the share of clean energy in the Indian electricity grid will ramp up significantly over the coming decade. The government and private companies can support the transition to charging EVs using renewable energy by adopting several emerging mechanisms being implemented internationally.

Current Status

India launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) program in 2015 to encourage the purchase of EVs. However, as of 2021, EVs account for only 2% of the vehicle sales. Introducing policy interventions like Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programs which require auto manufacturers to maintain a portion of vehicle sales as electric can help increase deployment and reduce air pollution. ZEV programs clubbed with stricter targets for Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFÉ) norms for various vehicle segments can accelerate  the transition to clean transportation. As the share of EVs grows in the coming years, greening the grid becomes equally important. Renewable energy powered electric vehicles are the best combination in reducing emissions, improving air quality, and enhancing energy security.

India needs to have lithium-ion battery self-reliance in order to become a significant player in the global electric mobility map. In India, EV sales have increased threefold to a total of 4,29,217 units in FY22 compared to 1,34,821 units from the year-ago period, according to the Federation of Automobile Dealer Association (FADA).

Battery Challenges

While electric vehicles can play an important role in reducing emissions, they also contain a potential hazard, their batteries. Not only do these batteries require large amounts of raw materials, including lithium, nickel and cobalt – mining for which has climate, environmental and human rights impacts – they also threaten to leave a mountain of electronic waste as they reach the end of their lives. For every car on our roads to be zero emission by 2050, just under double the current total annual world cobalt production, 75% of the world’s lithium production and at least 50% of the world’s copper production would be required. Currently, electric cars rely on lithium and cobalt batteries to run, which, whilst undoubtedly better for the environment than carbon, aren’t entirely clean. As the automotive industry starts to transform, experts say now is the time to plan for what happens to batteries at the end of their lives, to reduce reliance on mining and keep materials in circulation.

When it comes to batteries being recycled, it is still an expensive and ongoing process and most batteries are not being recycled yet. In spite of this, solutions to make electric cars greener and more eco-friendly and sustainable are being developed. And although there is room for improvement, we have also seen that electric cars, as they are today, are already, in general, more eco-friendly along their lifecycle than the conventional fossil fuel cars, especially if they are powered with clean electricity. Some countries are already realizing this and that’s why they are fostering the growth of the electric cars market, mostly by giving fiscal benefits that make the cars economically more competitive. Few of the nations such as Norway, Germany or Costa Rica have set deadlines for the end of conventional cars on their roads.

Outlook is Bright

According to an independent study by CEEW Centre for Energy Finance (CEEW-CEF), the EV market in India will be a US $206 billion opportunity by 2030 if India maintains steady progress to meet its ambitious 2030 target. This would require a cumulative investment of over US $180 billion in vehicle production and charging infrastructure. Another report by India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) projects that the Indian EV market will grow at a CAGR of 36% till 2026. The EV battery market is also projected to grow at a CAGR of 30% during the same period.

Renewable energy and smart EV charging have a bright future, and they hold great promise for a cleaner and more sustainable world. As technology advances, we can expect to see even more advancements in renewable energy sources and the smart charging systems that support them. Furthermore, as more consumers adopt EVs, charging infrastructure will become more widespread and convenient, making the transition to clean, sustainable transportation easier than ever.

The greater the use of renewables, the fewer charge points are required to rely on the grid at all. For example, solar panels installed on the charging stations’ property can be used to charge the sites’ local storage batteries, allowing EVs to be charged without adding additional demand to the grid. The energy stored in the batteries can also relieve strain on the power infrastructure during peak demand periods.

The transition to renewable energy and smart EV charging is critical for a more sustainable and cleaner future. We can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, improve air quality, and help mitigate the effects of climate change by investing in renewable energy sources, smart EV charging systems, and smart energy management. We can all help to create a better future for ourselves and future generations by making informed choices about our energy and transportation options.

Making EVs Truly Greener

There are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars, but to keep them charged. Essentially, unless the electricity that powers EVs is clean, EVs can never be a fully green option. With the vast number of EVs being projected for launch in coming years, it is crucial that both users and utilities find a way to charge them with renewable energy sources.

Challenges faced by EV industry

Insufficient charging infrastructure: Lack of sufficient charging infrastructure is one of the primary reasons why customers often refrain from purchasing EVs

High costs: As compared to lower-end internal combustion engine cars, electric cars in the same segment tend to be more expensive

Lower mileage: EVs in India are not cost-competitive to an average customer as internal combustion engine vehicles prove to be more cost-effective

Higher dependency on imports: Reliance on imports of batteries as well as other components is also one of the factors adding to the cost of EVs in India

Register Now to Attend NextGen Chemicals & Petrochemicals Summit 2023 on 13-14 July 2023, Novotel Mumbai International Airport, Mumbai

Other Related stories