Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Q.) “Research and smart trade agreements are needed to realise India’s ambitious electric vehicles target.” What kind of research and trade agreements are we looking for?
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: NEMMP, CEEW
Mains level: This topic is strategically and environmentally important.
- The article is related to India’s ‘ambitious electric vehicles target’
- The Government has recently announced that only electric vehicles (EVs) will be sold in India from 2030
- The current National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) has set a sales target of only 5-7 million EVs and hybrid electric vehicles annually by 2020
What is needed to achieve the above target?
- The Indian automobile market is expected to increase to an annual sales figure of around 23 million by 2030
- Replacing these with EVs would require a significant push as far as vehicle-charging infrastructure and batteries are concerned
- Technical Requirement: The transition would require a battery capacity of about 400 GWh (gigawatt hours) each year
- It is equivalent to increasing the current global EV battery production by a factor of five, just to cater to the Indian EV market
Can this target be achieved by imports?
- The annual EV battery market is expected to be around $30-55 billion
- India cannot afford to fulfil the demand solely through imports
What kind of batteries are used in EVs?
- Variants of lithium-ion batteries such as lithium-titanate, lithium-cobalt, and lithium-sulphurare predominantly used in electric vehicles
A Study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)
- According to a study on India’s critical non-fuel minerals by the CEEW, manufacturing lithium-ion batteries would require critical minerals
- These minerals includes cobalt, graphite, lithium and phosphate
- Among them, lithium is of particular importance
Issues with lithium Prices
- 95% of global lithium production comes from Argentina, Australia, Chile and China
- The recent demand surge in the electric mobility market has already resulted in a twofold increase in lithium prices
- It is estimated by the CEEW that India would require about 40,000 tonnes of lithium to manufacture EV batteries in 2030
- it is important that India secure mineral supplies for its domestic industry by acquisition of overseas assets such as mineral reserves and the associated production
The Way forward
- There is a need to formulate policies which can encourage domestic public and private mining companies to invest in overseas lithium mining assets
- Also, India must focus on creating a vibrant battery research and development ecosystem domestically
- Research should focus on developing alternative technologies containing minerals with low supply risks
- And battery recycling techniques to recover associated minerals and materials
- Recycling lithium batteries will significantly reduce the burden in procuring fresh resources