Electric vehicles for a clean environment
The number of vehicles in the world is consistently on an increase. The total number of vehicles registered in India had been 5.4 million in 1981, 11 million in 1986, 33 million in 1996, 40 million in 2000, and 210 million in 2015. This indicates a 3500 percentage growth in the total number of vehicles in India between 1981 and 2015. Energy efficiency measures and emission reduction measures have not been able to keep pace with increase in sale of vehicles on road. A large part of air pollution and greenhouse gas emission comes from petrol and diesel driven vehicles. Electric Vehicles (EVs), on the other hand, release no tail pipe air pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions. It is believed that adoption of EVs would have a significant net environmental benefit, except in a few countries that continue to rely on coal-fired power plants for the bulk of their electricity generation.
More than a third of life time carbon dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to make the car itself. This is due to the manufacture of the lithium ion batteries which are an essential part of an electric car. Even after taking battery manufacture into account, electric cars are still a greener option. The emissions from electricity generation required to fuel an electric car also add to the carbon emissions of an electric car. But still, the carbons emissions of an electric car are around 17-30 % lower than driving a petrol or diesel car. According to a study, Europe would be on track to reduce Carbon dioxide emissions from cars by 88%, by 2050. The associated technology improvements would cut toxic Nitrogen Oxides from cars from around 1.3 million tonnes per year to around 70,000 tonnes per year.
In terms of connectivity by electric vehicles, Norway has 22 %, China has 2 % and India has only 0.02%. For India to talk about full connectivity by 2030 is too ambitious, but 20% by 2030 is a realistic target. Other countries have also set official targets for electric car sales. The UK government has set a target that sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040. A number of steps have been taken in India, to introduce electric vehicles. In 2013, the Government of India launched the NEMMP, the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. This was to promote hybrid and electric vehicles. Government of India also floated a tender to purchase 10,000 electric vehicles. Along with fulfilling the urgent need to keep air pollutants in check; this will help in reducing the petroleum import bill and running cost of vehicles.
Electric scooters, motorcycles, buses, mini pick up trucks, heavy duty trucks have also been launched in India. Battery powered e-rickshaws are already a popular mode of transport in India. The electric vehicle is covered under Government of India’s FAME- India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles) scheme launched under NEMMP 2020, that offers incentives ranging from Rs 1800 to Rs 29000 for scooters and motorcycles and Rs 1.38 Lac for cars. The policy also earmarks 140 million dollars to develop charging infrastructure which should help further the development of the EV industry in India .The guidelines also require a charging station to be present every 25 km along a road /highway. Many governments offer rebates to people who purchase electric vehicles. Also there are grants for installation of up to two charge points in private residences and up to 20 for commercial organisations.
Most EVs use lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Lithium-ion batteries have higher energy density, longer lifespan and higher power density than most other practical batteries. Complicating factors include safety , durability , thermal breakdown and cost .Lithium -ion batteries should be used within safe temperature and voltage ranges in order to operate safely and efficiently. Most EVs in India provide a range of 110 km and cost between Rs 6-8 lakh, which does not give any cost advantage compared to higher range cars in the same price range. This is because Lithium–ion battery packs are imported and cost a lot, but this price is constantly decreasing. This will make EVs more affordable and attractive on the market. The cost of operating an EV varies widely depending on location. In some parts of the world, an EV costs less to drive than a comparable gas-powered vehicle, as long as the higher initial purchase price is not factored in. In the US, ‘fuel’ (electricity) for EVs today cost owners significantly more than fuel for a comparable gas-powered vehicle. Charging infrastructure, mainly setting up of level2 charging at public level, shall be the toughest challenge in terms of service integration for India. For normal charging , the charging time poses serious problem as it ranges from 6 to 8 hours whereas for fast DC charging, cost and high renewable energy are the biggest factors which could pose a problem .
It is also assumed that 10% of the charging infrastructure required in India shall be composed of fast charging stations and rest 90% shall come from level 2 public charging set ups. EVs typically charge from conventional power outlets or dedicated charging stations , a process that typically takes hours , but can be done overnight and often gives a charge that is sufficient for normal everyday usage. However, with the widespread implementation of electric vehicle networks within large cities in the UK and Europe, EV users can plug in their cars at work and leave them to charge throughout the day, extending the possible range of commuters and eliminating range anxiety. There is a growing concern about the safety of EVs, given the demonstrated tendency of the Lithium-ion battery to overheat, possibly leading to fire or explosion, especially when damaged in a crash. Consumer response impelled GM to make safety enhancements to the battery system. As the technology advances, charging infrastructure is installed and more green electricity is available, it is hoped that EVs will become a preferred class of vehicles compared to the petrol and diesel based vehicles. This will, in turn, reduce green gas emissions and air pollution substantially and progressively, in the next three decades. It is hoped that Electric Vehicles will be a powerful tool to keep our environment cleaner than it is at present.