Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

Fleet electrification to tackle urban pollution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM2.5 and PM10

Mains level : critical role of transitioning to electric trucks to mitigate PM2.5 pollution

Adani to deploy 400 BYD Electric Trucks at 4 Indian ports - India Shipping  News

Central idea

The central idea revolves around the urgent need to address worsening air quality in Indian cities, focusing on the critical role of transitioning to electric trucks to mitigate PM2.5 pollution. Despite challenges like upfront costs, the article emphasizes the imperative of swift action, proposes green freight corridors as a demonstration, and calls for a concerted effort involving public and private sectors to accelerate the transition and ensure a healthier urban environment.

Key Highlights:

  • Air Quality Crisis: Rising air pollution in Indian cities necessitates prioritizing mitigation strategies, focusing on PM2.5 and PM10 pollution from the transport and construction sector.
  • Truck Fleet Expansion: The significant increase in the truck fleet poses a threat to air quality, and the transition to electric trucks is crucial for sustainability and energy security.

Challenges:

  • Air Pollution Impact: The annual addition of 9 lakh new trucks to Indian roads contributes to air pollution, consuming a substantial portion of oil imports and contributing to over 90% of road transport CO2 emissions.
  • Obstacles to Electric Adoption: Upfront costs and charging infrastructure constraints pose challenges to the adoption of electric trucks, despite the success in electrifying rail freight and buses.

Key Phrases:

  • Urgent Deployment: Urgent deployment of solutions is paramount in addressing the air quality crisis.
  • Targeted Mitigation: Diesel trucks and dust mitigation are identified as significant PM sources requiring immediate attention.
  • Corridor Demonstration: Green freight corridors are proposed as a demonstration effect to accelerate the transition to electric trucks.

Critical Analysis:

  • Swift Action Call: The need for swift action is emphasized, with a call to accelerate the pace of transition to electric trucks.
  • Financial Implications: Public funding alone is insufficient, and the importance of attracting private and institutional capital is highlighted.
  • Decarbonization Priority: Despite the success in electrifying three-wheelers, truck electrification is recognized as a pivotal step in transport sector decarbonization.

Key Examples and References:

  • E-truck Demand: The demand for 7,750 e-trucks in India by 2030 is cited as a potential measure to save over 800 billion liters of diesel till 2050.
  • Cost Disparity: The upfront cost disparity between mid-range electric trucks and diesel trucks is identified as a major hurdle.

Key Data:

  • Electric Penetration Rate: India’s electric vehicle penetration rate has crossed 6%, but electric trucks remain a challenge.
  • Fleet Projection: The Indian truck fleet is projected to reach 1.7 crore in 2050, emphasizing the urgency of transitioning to electric trucks.

Key Facts:

  • Corridor Proposal: Electrifying expressways and national highways as green freight corridors is proposed for demonstration and impact.
  • Financial Innovation: Innovative financial instruments and a conducive regulatory environment are deemed essential for the breakthrough in truck electrification.

Way Forward:

  • Concerted Efforts: Urges the need for concerted efforts, including feasibility studies, demand aggregation, and a conducive regulatory environment, to create green freight corridors.
  • Recognition of Urgency: Stresses the importance of recognizing the urgency in addressing air quality issues and transitioning to electric trucks for a healthier urban environment.

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How does an Electric Battery work?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Electric Batteries

Mains level : Not Much

battery

Central Idea

  • Electric batteries have become an integral part of modern life, enabling the widespread use of motorization and wireless technology.
  • These devices store and release electrical energy, acquired by converting other forms of energy, primarily through chemical reactions.

Historical Roots of Electric Batteries

  • Galvani’s Experiment: In 1780, Luigi Galvani conducted an experiment involving two metal plates and a frog’s leg, marking an early exploration of electricity’s effects on biological systems.
  • Volta’s Voltaic Pile: Alessandro Volta’s voltaic pile in 1800 consisted of alternating copper and zinc plates separated by electrolyte-soaked paper. It produced a steady current but lacked a comprehensive explanation.
  • John Daniel’s Innovation: British chemist John Daniel improved on Volta’s design with a more efficient cell that generated electric current for extended periods.
  • Faraday’s Insights: In the early 19th century, Michael Faraday elucidated the principles of electrochemical cells, including naming components like anode, cathode, and electrolyte.

Understanding Electric Batteries

  • Voltaic Cells: Electric batteries, also known as voltaic or galvanic cells, utilize redox reactions to produce an electric current. They consist of two half-cells, each with a metal electrode immersed in an electrolyte of the same metal.
  • Electron Transfer: In one half-cell, metal ions dissolve into the electrolyte, releasing electrons. In the other half-cell, the reverse occurs, as metal ions deposit onto the electrode and require electrons.
  • External Circuit: A wire connects the two electrodes, allowing electron flow from the anode to the cathode. A salt bridge connects the two electrolytes, enabling ion exchange.
  • Components: Key components include the cathode (positive electrode), anode (negative electrode), and the electrolyte. The source voltage and terminal voltage are important concepts.
  • Source Voltage: It represents the energy imparted to electrons and is equal to the terminal voltage in ideal conditions.
  • Issues: Corrosion is a common issue in electrochemical cells, caused by factors like moisture and galvanic corrosion.

Types of Batteries

  • Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Batteries: Li-ion batteries are rechargeable and have revolutionized technology. They consist of a cathode, anode, and an electrolyte. During discharge, lithium ions move between electrodes, facilitating energy storage.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Batteries: EV batteries, such as those used in Tesla’s Model S, are composed of numerous Li-ion cells and are critical for powering electric vehicles.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Hydrogen fuel cells are gaining interest, especially in the context of green energy. They use hydrogen as a fuel source and produce electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen, emitting water as a byproduct.

Future Prospects and Significance

  • Ongoing Research: Li-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells continue to be areas of extensive research, with diverse configurations and advantages.
  • Hydrogen Economy: Hydrogen fuel cells are expected to play a pivotal role in the emerging hydrogen economy, and countries like India are investing in green hydrogen production.

Conclusion

  • Electric batteries, rooted in the principles of electrochemistry, have undergone significant evolution, transforming the way we live and utilize energy.
  • Their development and improvement remain central to advancing convenience and sustainability in industrialized societies, shaping the future of technology and transportation.

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New EV Charging Standard for Bikes and Scooters

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ISI7017 (Part 2 / Sec 7) 2023: India's Charging Standard

Mains level : EV infrastructure promotion

charging

Central Idea

  • India’s Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) recently approved an innovative charging connector standard, ISI7017 (Part 2 / Sec 7): 2023, designed for light electric vehicles (LEVs) like scooters, bikes, and rickshaws.

Why discuss this?

  • This pioneering standard combines alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) charging, making it the world’s first of its kind.
  • Much like universal mobile phone charging standards, this initiative aims to enhance interoperability and charging convenience for EV users in India.

ISI7017 (Part 2 / Sec 7) 2023: India’s Charging Standard

  • AC and DC Integration: The newly approved standard represents a groundbreaking approach by merging AC and DC charging technologies for LEVs. Unlike existing norms primarily catering to four-wheelers, this standard addresses the unique requirements of two-wheelers and rickshaws.
  • Interoperability Advantages: The concept of a combined charging standard offers compelling interoperability benefits, accommodating diverse EV models and charging infrastructure providers. It aligns with global trends that prioritize seamless EV charging experiences.

Need for a National Standard in India

  • Diverse Charging Standards: In India, there is currently no mandate for EV manufacturers to adhere to a specific charging connector standard. As a result, companies like Ola Electric, Ather Energy, and Ultraviolette Automotive employ different charging standards for their EVs.
  • Challenges of Multiple Standards: The proliferation of unique charging standards among EV manufacturers complicates the establishment of public charging stations, exacerbating range anxiety—an apprehension that EVs may run out of charge with limited charging options.

Global Charging Connector Scenarios

  • China’s National Standard: China, the world’s largest electric car market, employs a national standard known as GB/T. Supported by an extensive charging network, this standard has effectively tackled range anxiety concerns.
  • United States’ Collaborative Efforts: Although the U.S. lacks a national standard, leading EV manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors (GM) are collaborating to establish the North American Charging Standard (NACS), partly based on Tesla’s technology.
  • Europe’s CCS Standard: Europe predominantly relies on the Combined Charging System (CCS) as its charging connector standard, mandated by the European Union (EU). Even Tesla has integrated CCS ports into its European EVs and Superchargers.
  • Japan’s CHAdeMO Standard: Japan’s primary charging standard, CHAdeMO, has seen success domestically but is gradually being phased out in North America.

Conclusion

  • India’s innovative AC/DC combined charging connector standard for light electric vehicles marks a significant step toward streamlining EV charging infrastructure.
  • While the new standard introduces interoperability advantages, addressing the challenge of diverse charging standards across EV manufacturers remains essential.

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India’s shift away from Diesel: Implications and Policy Proposals

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : India’s Pushback against Diesel

diesel

Central diIdea

  • Recent remarks by Road Transport Minister have sparked discussions about India’s transition away from diesel-powered vehicles and the potential imposition of an additional 10% GST as a “pollution tax.”
  • While these remarks have stirred concerns in the automotive sector, the government’s commitment to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions remains a key driving force in this shift.

India’s Pushback against Diesel

  • Policy Shift: Minister’s comments align with a broader policy shift aimed at reducing India’s reliance on diesel. The government aims to produce 40% of the country’s electricity from renewables and achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
  • Diesel Consumption: Diesel currently accounts for approximately 40% of India’s petroleum products consumption, with the transport sector being a significant consumer.
  • High Taxation: The government already imposes a 28% tax on diesel cars, coupled with additional cess based on engine capacity, resulting in a nearly 50% tax rate.

Impact on Diesel-Run Cars

  • Industry Response: Several automakers have scaled back their diesel portfolios. Maruti ceased diesel vehicle production in 2020, citing the high cost of upgrading to meet BS-VI emission norms.
  • Emissions Concerns: Diesel engines emit higher levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), contributing to environmental concerns. The Volkswagen scandal in 2015 further tarnished diesel’s reputation globally.
  • Fuel Economy: While diesel engines offer better fuel economy and torque, the price difference between diesel and petrol has diminished since the decontrol of fuel prices in 2014.

Reasons for Individual Diesel Preference

  • Fuel Efficiency: Diesel engines offer higher energy content per liter and inherent efficiency, making them preferred for heavy vehicles and haulage.
  • Cost Consideration: Historically, diesel was significantly cheaper than petrol, driving a preference for diesel-powered vehicles. However, this price gap has narrowed.

Reasons for Carmakers’ Retreat from Diesel

  • Emissions Challenges: Diesel engines tend to emit higher levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), making them environmentally less favourable compared to petrol engines.
  • Volkswagen Scandal: The 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, where the company manipulated emissions controls during lab tests, tarnished diesel’s reputation globally, affecting perceptions in India as well.
  • BS-VI Emission Norms: The rollout of the BS-VI emission norms from April 1, 2020, posed a significant challenge for diesel vehicles. Meeting these stringent standards required complex and costly upgrades.
  • Economic Viability: Upgrading diesel engines to comply with BS-VI norms involved installing three crucial components: a diesel particulate filter, a selective catalytic reduction system, and an LNT (Lean NOx trap). This technological overhaul resulted in high costs for car manufacturers, making diesel options economically unviable.

Impact on Diesel Buyers

  • Changing Economics: The historical price advantage of diesel over petrol has diminished since the decontrol of fuel prices in 2014. The price difference now stands at approximately Rs 7 per liter, significantly reducing the economic incentive for diesel vehicles.
  • Consumer Shift: Diesel cars, once preferred by Indian consumers, have seen their market share decline steadily, accounting for less than 20% of overall passenger vehicle sales in 2021-22.

Policy Implications

  • Phasing Out Diesel: Globally, many countries are moving towards phasing out diesel vehicles in alignment with environmental goals.
  • Challenges in India: Implementing a total ban on diesel vehicles in India poses challenges due to substantial investments made by carmakers and oil companies in transitioning to BS-VI standards. Additionally, the commercial vehicles segment heavily relies on diesel, making an immediate ban disruptive.
  • Alternative Fuels: Experts emphasize the importance of technology-agnostic policies that prioritize stringent operational standards, including emissions norms. Transitioning to alternative fuels like liquefied natural gas (LNG) and exploring electric vehicles (EVs) can play a pivotal role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Hydrogen Potential: The Energy Transition Advisory Committee report highlights the potential of hydrogen as a motive fuel, which could reduce emissions and transform the logistics market.
  • Environmental Initiatives: Oil marketing companies have taken steps to reduce the environmental footprint of diesel, including lowering sulphur levels and introducing biodiesel specifications.

Conclusion

  • India’s transition away from diesel is driven by environmental concerns, emissions reduction goals, and changing fuel economics.
  • While a pollution tax on diesel vehicles remains speculative, it reflects the government’s commitment to cleaner and greener alternatives.
  • This shift has implications for both the automotive industry and individual vehicle owners, emphasizing the need for cleaner and more sustainable transportation options.

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VGF Scheme for Battery Infrastructure

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : VGF

Mains level : EV infrastructure promotion

Central Idea

Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Scheme

  • VGF means a grant to support projects that are economically justified but not financially viable.
  • The VGF scheme was launched in 2004 to support projects that come under Public-Private Partnerships.
  • The scheme is designed as a Plan Scheme to be administered by the Ministry of Finance and amount in the budget are made on a year-to-year basis.
  • Such a grant under VGF is provided as a capital subsidy to attract the private sector players to participate in PPP projects that are otherwise financially unviable.
  • Projects may not be commercially viable because of the long gestation period and small revenue flows in future.

VGF for Battery Infrastructure

  • This scheme aims to create 4,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of BESS projects by 2030-31, offering financial support of up to 40% of the capital cost in the form of VGF.
  • It is expected to lower battery storage costs, enhancing their practicality.
  • Designed to leverage renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, the scheme aims to provide clean, dependable, and cost-effective electricity to the public.

How would it work?

  • By offering VGF support, the scheme targets achieving a levelised cost of storage (LCoS) ranging from ₹5.50-6.60 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
  • It would thus make stored renewable energy a viable option for managing peak power demand across the country.
  • The VGF disbursement will occur in five stages linked to BESS project implementation milestones.

Benefits to Consumers and Infrastructure

  • To ensure consumer benefits, a minimum of 85% of BESS project capacity will be allocated to distribution companies (Discoms).
  • This strategy enhances renewable energy integration into the electricity grid, minimizes wastage, and optimizes transmission network usage, reducing the need for costly infrastructure upgrades.
  • This approach stimulates healthy competition and encourages BESS ecosystem growth, drawing substantial investments and generating opportunities for related industries.

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PM E-Bus Seva Scheme: 10,000 Electric Buses to Transform Urban Mobility

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : E-Bus Seva Scheme

Mains level : Read the attached story

e-bus

Central Idea

  • The Union Cabinet’s recent approval of the PM e-bus Seva scheme marks a significant step towards enhancing urban mobility and promoting green transportation across India.

PM E-Bus Seva: Scheme Overview

  • E-Bus Definition: The scheme’s core revolves around e-buses, which are buses powered solely by zero-emissions electricity sources for both propulsion and accessory systems.
  • Scope and Cost: The PM e-bus Sewa scheme is estimated to cost ₹57,613 crore, with the Central government contributing ₹20,000 crore.
  • Operational Support: The scheme is designed to provide operational support to bus services for a period of 10 years.

Implementation Strategy

  • Two Segments: The scheme will be executed in two distinct segments:
    1. 10,000 E-Buses: In 169 cities, 10,000 e-buses will be introduced through a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
    2. Infrastructure Upgrades: In 181 other cities, green urban mobility initiatives will focus on improving infrastructure, bus priority, charging infrastructure, multimodal interchange facilities, and automated fare collection systems.
  • Depot Infrastructure: For the first segment, the development and enhancement of depot infrastructure, including power substations, will be undertaken to support the new e-buses.
  • Job Creation: The scheme is expected to generate around 45,000 to 55,000 direct jobs, contributing to employment growth.

Coverage and Funding

  • Coverage: Cities with populations of three lakh and above, Union Territory capitals, as well as northeastern and hill states, are included in the scheme’s ambit.
  • Funding Model: States or cities will manage bus services and payments to bus operators, with the Central government providing subsidies as outlined in the scheme. This approach promotes decentralized management.

Positive Impacts

  • Environmental Benefits: The adoption of electric buses will significantly reduce noise and air pollution, contributing to cleaner and healthier urban environments.
  • Carbon Emission Reduction: Electric mobility aligns with India’s commitment to curb carbon emissions and combat climate change.
  • Economies of Scale: Aggregating electric bus procurement is expected to achieve economies of scale, making electric buses more financially viable and encouraging their adoption.

Conclusion

  • The PM e-bus Sewa scheme signifies India’s ambitious stride towards sustainable and eco-friendly urban mobility.
  • It also highlights the government’s commitment to job creation, as well as its determination to transform the transportation sector into a cleaner, greener, and more efficient mode of commuting.

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Exploring Distance Tax: Transition from Oil-Dependent Revenue

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Distance Tax

Mains level : NA

Central Idea

  • With the shift towards cleaner energy sources and the decline in oil consumption, governments are seeking alternative revenue sources to compensate for the loss of fuel tax income.
  • One such solution is the implementation of distance tax, a mileage-based user fee that can potentially mitigate revenue loss while encouraging sustainable transportation practices.

Understanding Distance Tax

  • Concept: Distance tax, also known as mileage-based user fees or road-user charges, is a taxation method based on motorists’ road usage and mileage. The tax is proportional to the distance driven, incentivizing responsible vehicle usage.
  • Variable Rates: Distance tax rates can be flat, calculated per kilometer, or variable based on factors such as location and time. It can also vary according to the vehicle type.
  • Technology Implementation: Distance tax can be tracked through various technologies like automatic number plate recognition, radio frequency identification, or GPS-based systems. The latter, especially using the GPS-based toll collection system, holds promise for implementation in India.

Advantages of Distance Tax

distance tax

  • Revenue Recovery: As fuel consumption decreases due to the adoption of cleaner energy sources, distance tax offers a fuel-neutral method to recover lost tax revenue.
  • Encouraging Efficient Behavior: Distance tax promotes efficient vehicle usage, rewarding those who drive less and opting for environmentally friendly vehicles.
  • Managing Congestion: The tax can help manage traffic congestion by encouraging the use of small vehicles with lower carbon footprints.

Comparing with Other Alternatives

  • Fuel Tax Increase: Raising fuel tax rates is an option, but it might not align with the transition to cleaner energy sources and could negatively impact consumers.
  • Annual Fees on EVs: Imposing annual fees on electric vehicles (EVs) could hinder the EV adoption rate.
  • GST and Toll Tax Increase: Hiking GST on EVs or increasing toll tax and electricity tax is politically challenging.

Impact on Government Revenue

  • Oil Tax Dependency: Governments heavily rely on fuel tax revenues. In India, petroleum contributed to over 17.5% of the Centre’s revenue in 2022–23, and VAT on petroleum products accounted for 15% of all states’ and UTs’ revenue.
  • EV Transition Effects: The transition to EVs is predicted to reduce government revenue by 10.2%, equivalent to ₹1,457 crore, for Delhi by 2030. The Centre is also projected to lose 10% of its fuel tax revenue in Delhi due to EV adoption.

Way Forward

  • Gamification and Rewards: Develop a smartphone app that tracks a user’s distance traveled and calculates their distance tax.
  • Dynamic Pricing Based on Emission Levels: Implement a tiered distance tax system that charges vehicles with higher emissions more than those with lower emissions.
  • Green Corridors and Bonus Miles: Designate certain routes as “green corridors” with reduced or waived distance tax rates and offer bonus miles or credits to users who choose these routes.
  • Voluntary Reduction Challenges: Launch voluntary challenges where users commit to reducing their mileage for a set period.
  • Carbon Offset Integration: Provide users with the option to use a portion of their distance tax payments to support carbon offset projects, such as reforestation or renewable energy initiatives.

Conclusion

  • Distance tax stands out as a viable solution to balance revenue streams while encouraging responsible driving behavior and greener vehicle choices.
  • It addresses the challenge of declining oil tax income while promoting a shift towards cleaner transportation methods.

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Hybrid EVs: A Viable Path to Net-Zero Mobility

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hybrid Cars, Net-Zero

Mains level : Read the attached story

ev hybrid net-zero

Central Idea

  • The global transition towards net-zero emissions is a critical aspect of combating climate change, and electric vehicles (EVs) play a pivotal role in this endeavour.
  • In economically developing countries, hybrid EVs offer a significant opportunity to kickstart the transition, considering challenges related to power generation, grid capacity, and fast-charging infrastructure.

Understanding Net-Zero for Vehicles

  • “Net-zero for vehicles” refers to the concept of achieving carbon neutrality or net-zero carbon emissions in the transportation sector.
  • This goal involves reducing the overall carbon footprint of vehicles to balance the emissions they produce with equivalent carbon removal or offsetting measures.

Achieving Net-Zero for Vehicles:

  • Decarbonization of Vehicles: This includes transitioning from conventional internal combustion engines (ICE) that rely on fossil fuels to electric vehicles (EVs) that run on electricity generated from renewable energy sources.
  • Electrification: This involves increasing the adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that produce zero tailpipe emissions when operating on electricity.
  • Renewable Energy Integration: To ensure that EVs are truly net-zero, the electricity used to charge them must come from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power.
  • Sustainable Fuels: For certain types of vehicles that may not be easily electrifiable, such as heavy-duty trucks and aviation, the use of sustainable fuels can play a role in achieving net-zero emissions.
  • Infrastructure Development: Building and expanding charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is essential to support the widespread adoption of EVs.
  • Carbon Offsetting: Carbon offsetting involves supporting projects that remove or reduce an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such as afforestation, reforestation, or renewable energy projects.
  • Policy Support: Incentives, subsidies, emissions standards, and carbon pricing mechanisms can encourage consumers and industries to adopt cleaner transportation options.

Types of Electric Vehicles

  • Electric Vehicle (EV): Any vehicle using an electric drivetrain powered by a portable electrical energy source.
  • Hybrid EV: Combines an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electrical generator to produce electricity. It utilizes a small battery (1-5kWh) as an energy buffer but cannot be charged from the grid.
  • Full EV: Also known as a battery EV or plug-in EV, it lacks an ICE, resulting in no tailpipe emissions. It has a larger battery (20-120 kWh) charged solely from the grid.
  • Plug-in Hybrid EV: A hybrid EV with a larger battery (5-15 kWh) that can be charged from the grid, operating in full electric mode as long as there is energy in the battery.
  • Fuel-Cell EV: Utilizes a fuel cell and a small battery buffer to produce electricity for the drivetrain.

Fuel Economy and Emissions of Hybrid and Fully Electric EVs

  • Hybrid EVs: With the combination of an ICE, generator, and battery, hybrid EVs exhibit 1.5-2x higher fuel economy than conventional ICE vehicles in city driving and 1-1.5x higher in highway driving.
  • Plug-in Hybrid EVs: Combine the advantages of hybrid and full EVs, covering 80-90% of short commutes in fully electric mode with 3-4x higher fuel economy than conventional vehicles.
  • Life-Cycle Emissions: A comprehensive index considering well-to-wheel emissions, vehicle, and battery production, maintenance, and end-of-life recycling. Full EVs result in 19-34% lower emissions for sedans and 38-49% for SUVs compared to conventional vehicles, even with fossil-fuel-dominated energy mix in India.

Challenges in Transitioning to Electric Mobility

  • Fast-Charging Infrastructure: Successful transition requires fast-charging infrastructure along highways to alleviate range anxiety and encourage full EV adoption.
  • Grid Access and Reliability: Many regions lack access to a reliable grid, posing challenges for slow and fast-charging capabilities.
  • Vehicle Costs: Mass-market EV prices are much lower in economically developing countries, hindering widespread adoption due to high battery costs.

Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid EVs: Decarbonizing the Interim

  • Hybrid EVs present an opportunity to lower emissions until full EVs become viable options in the long term.
  • Plug-in hybrids, with their all-electric range, offer many benefits, reducing fuel costs, emissions, and oil imports.
  • Regenerative braking and engine start-stop mechanisms improve fuel economy in hybrid EVs.
  • Hybrid cars’ purchase price is only slightly higher than conventional vehicles, irrespective of the vehicle range.

Conclusion

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles serve as a bridge to the net-zero future, offering a practical and efficient solution for economically developing countries.
  • While full EVs are the ultimate goal, the adoption of hybrid and plug-in hybrid EVs can significantly reduce emissions and fuel costs in the interim.
  • A coordinated effort to address infrastructure challenges and enhance grid reliability will pave the way for a sustainable transition towards a net-zero mobility landscape powered by renewable energy sources.

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EV Tires: A lesser-known Pollution Headache

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 6PPD in Tires

Mains level : Pollution caused by Tyres

tyre

Central Idea: Tire Pollution

  • Meeting EVs’ Needs: Tire manufacturers strive to develop the perfect tire that balances performance and durability for electric vehicles (EVs).
  • Weight and Torque Considerations: EVs’ increased weight and torque require sturdier tires to handle the load and efficiently transfer power to the road.
  • Leading Manufacturers’ Efforts: Tire companies are improving designs and developing chemical formulas to meet the demands of EVs.

Environmental Impact of Tires

  • Beyond Tailpipe Emissions: Tires significantly contribute to environmental degradation beyond exhaust emissions.
  • Tire Wear and Particle Shedding: Worn tires release tiny particles, which can become airborne or settle on soil, posing risks to air and land quality.
  • Microplastic Pollution: Tire particles entering waterways contribute to the growing problem of microplastic pollution.
  • VOCs and Smog: Tires contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that react in the atmosphere, contributing to smog formation and air pollution.

Tire Emissions and Electric Vehicles

  • Surpassing Tailpipe Emissions: Tire particulate pollution has exceeded emissions from vehicle tailpipes.
  • EVs’ Weight Impact: EVs’ additional weight results in higher tire wear emissions compared to traditional vehicles.
  • Tesla Model Y vs. Kia Niro: A study showed that the Tesla Model Y exhibited 26% greater tire wear emissions than the Kia Niro.

Environmental Hazards and Solutions

  • Water Pollution and Microplastics: Tire particulate pollution contributes to water pollution and the accumulation of microplastics.
  • Health Hazards and 6PPD: The chemical 6PPD in tires poses risks to aquatic life, edible plants, and human health.
  • Balancing Climate Goals and Tire Emissions: Addressing tire emissions is crucial when transitioning to electric vehicles to mitigate overall pollution levels.
  • Reducing Car Use vs. Economic Activity: Balancing environmental concerns and economic activity while reducing car usage is essential for sustainable mobility.

Market Mechanisms and Individual Actions

  • Incentivizing Innovation: Market mechanisms can encourage tire companies to invest in developing low-emission tire formulations.
  • VOC Toxicity Variations: Stricter industry standards are needed to regulate volatile organic compound (VOC) toxicity levels in tires.
  • Individual Actions for Tire Wear Reduction: Responsible driving habits can reduce tire wear and particulate emissions.
  • Maximizing Lifespan: Using tires to their full lifespan minimizes particulate emissions during the initial usage period.

Conclusion

  • Innovating for a Sustainable Future: Tire design and manufacturing must balance EV performance and pollution reduction.
  • Collaborative Efforts Needed: Market, industry, and individual actions are crucial to address tire and EV-related challenges.
  • Striving for Sustainable Mobility: Comprehensive solutions integrating technology, environmental considerations, and responsible behavior can mitigate the environmental impact of tires.

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Countering Chinese monopoly in Electric vehicle market

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Electric vehicles

Mains level : Electric vehicle Supply chain market and india's position

Electric vehicle

Context

  • The start of COP27 in Egypt has renewed the world’s focus on climate change. Electric vehicles (EVs) are key in the global quest to decarbonizing. In India, which also faces serious air pollution issues, the transition to EVs is critical. However, there is a China-size risk in the supply chain for electric vehicles. The recent saber-rattling across the Taiwan Straits ought to be a warning for the world. Given India’s troubled relationship with China, the risk may be even more acute.

What are Electrical vehicles (EV’s)?

  • Electric vehicles (EV) are a part of the new normal as the global transportation sector undergoes a paradigm shift, with a clear preference towards cleaner and greener vehicles.
  • The electric vehicle is a vehicle that runs on electricity alone. Such a vehicle does not contain an internal combustion engine like the other conventional vehicles. Instead, it employs an electric motor to run the wheels.

Electric vehicle

The global status of EVs production and supply chain.

  • 50% of global EV’s production comes from China: EVs themselves, China has a share of around 50 per cent in global production.
  • 25% from Europe: Europe is a distant and stands at second position with 25 per cent.
  • 10% from US: Surprisingly, the US is a small player in the EV supply chain, producing only 10 per cent of vehicles and containing just 7 per cent of battery production capacity.
  • India’s position is still not noteworthy: India does not feature as a player of note.

What makes China a dominant player in EVs supply chain?

  • Every part of EV concentrated in China: According to a recent report by the International Energy Association, every part of the EV supply chain is highly concentrated, mostly in China.
  • High global mining output of Key minerals, specifically graphite: The first stage of the supply chain is the key minerals required for batteries, namely lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite, In graphite, China has an 80 per cent share of global mining output.
  • Chinese control over Politically unstable DRC’ Mines of cobalt: In Cobalt, the politically highly unstable Democratic Republic of Congo mines two-thirds of the global supply and Chinese companies control a big share of that country’s mining.
  • China dominates the processing of ore/minerals: Globally, over 60 per cent of lithium processing, over 70 per cent of cobalt processing, 80 per cent of graphite processing and about 40 per cent of nickel processing takes place in China.
  • China’s heavy production of cell components: Other than Japan and south korea, China produces two-thirds of global anodes and three-fourths of cathodes.
  • Same case with the battery cells: China has a 70 per cent share in the production of battery cells.

The status of Governmental spending’s of energy transition

  • China the biggest spender on energy transition: According to a report by Bloomberg’s New Energy Fund (NEF), in 2021, out of a total global spend of $750 billion in climate-related investments (90 per cent of which went into renewable energy and electric transport), China alone spent $266 billion.
  • US stands at second: The US was a distant second with $114 billion. The major countries of Europe combined would equal the US. In Europe, about 75-80 per cent of the spending is on EVs, which is why it leads the US in this sector.
  • India holds 7th rank but needs a focused approach: India was in 7th place not a bad rank to occupy with $14 billion invested. However, almost 40 per cent of Chinese and US spending was on EVs, while more than 95 per cent of India’s spending is on renewable energy. In India, despite intent, EVs have not received sufficient investment.

Electric vehicle

What Strategy India can follow?

  • Accelerating the mechanism of acquiring overseas mines of critical minerals: A recently formed government venture, KABIL, which is a JV between three minerals and metals PSUs, is tasked with the job of identifying and acquiring overseas mines
  • Liberalizing the domestic exploration policies: An alternate option is to liberalize exploration policies domestically, benchmark them with global best practices and invite global investors to find and mine in India.
  • Stitching up the supply alliances: It is important to stitch up supply alliances with countries ex-China, as has been done with Australia. At higher ends of the value chain, from battery cells onwards, there is a need to invest much more in R&D.
  • Making vibrant start up ecosystem and public private partnership: A public-private partnership is vital. The vibrant startup ecosystem must be leveraged because it is more likely to be innovative than legacy firms.

Electric vehicle

Do you know The Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL)?

  • A joint venture company namely Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL)  set up with the participation of three Central Public Sector Enterprises namely, National aluminium Company Ltd.(NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd.(HCL) and Mineral Exploration Company Ltd. (MECL).
  • The objective of constituting KABIL is to ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to Indian domestic market. While KABIL would ensure mineral security of the Nation, it would also help in realizing the overall objective of import substitution

Conclusion

  • The dragon has showed its evil side during the pandemic. China is weaponizing the trade to counter its adversaries. Excessive reliance on China for critical mineral resources is like falling into China’s trap. India and world need to restrain China to have monopoly over Electric Vehicle market.

 

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EV firms divided over Battery-Swapping Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Battery Swapping

Mains level : Read the attached story

battery

Battery Swapping could only be leveraged up to a certain limit and was not a complete solution to push electric vehicle (EV) adoption says some auto industry.

What is Battery Swapping?

  • Battery swapping is a mechanism that involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones.
  • This provides the flexibility to charge these batteries separately by de-linking charging and battery usage, and keeps the vehicle in operational mode with negligible downtime.
  • Battery swapping is generally used for smaller vehicles such as two-wheelers and three-wheelers with smaller batteries that are easier to swap, compared to four-wheelers and e-buses, although solutions are emerging for these larger segments as well.

What is BaaS?

  • Battery-as-a-service (BaaS) is seen as a viable charging alternative.
  • Manufacturers can sell EVs in two forms: Vehicles with fixed or removable batteries and vehicles with batteries on lease.
  • If you buy an electric scooter with battery leasing, you do not pay for the cost of the battery—that makes the initial acquisition almost 40% cheaper.
  • Users can swap drained batteries for a fully charged one at a swap station. The depleted batteries are then charged on or off-site.
  • The advantages of swapping include low downtimes for commercial fleets, reduced space requirements, and lower upfront costs.
  • It is also a viable solution for those who don’t have parking spots at home.

Draft Battery Swapping Policy 2021: Key Proposals

  • Rationalizing taxes on battery: The draft policy has suggested that the GST Council consider reducing the differential across the tax rates on Lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicle supply equipment. Currently, the tax rate on the former is 18 per cent, and 5 per cent on the latter.
  • Incentivization for swapping enabled vehicles: The policy also proposes to offer the same incentives available to electric vehicles that come pre-equipped with a fixed battery to electric vehicles with swappable batteries. The size of the incentive could be determined based on the kWh (kilowatt hour) rating of the battery and compatible EV.
  • Terms of contracts for battery providers: The government will specify a minimum contract duration for a contract to be signed between EV users and battery providers to ensure they continue to provide battery swapping services after receiving the subsidy.
  • Public battery charging stations: The policy also requires state governments to ensure public battery charging stations are eligible for EV power connections with concessional tariffs. It also proposes to install battery swapping stations at several locations like retail fuel outlets, public parking areas, malls, kirana shops and general stores etc.
  • Tariff rationalization: It also proposes to bring such stations under existing or future time-of-day (ToD) tariff regimes, so that the swappable batteries can be charged during off-peak periods when electricity tariffs are low.
  • Registration ease: Transport Departments and State Transport Authorities will be responsible for easing registration processes for vehicles sold without batteries or for vehicles with battery swapping functionality.
  • Unique identification number (UIN): The policy also proposes to assign a UIN to swappable batteries at the manufacturing stage to help track and monitor them. Similarly, a UIN number will be assigned to each battery swapping station.
  • Locations: The NITI Aayog has proposed that all metropolitan cities with a population of more than 40 lakh will be prioritized for the development of battery swapping networks under the first phase, which is within 1-2 years of the draft policy getting finalized.

Why hasn’t BaaS taken off yet?

  • Hefty taxes: There are economic and operational constraints. Energy service providers offering swapping solutions have to charge 18% goods and services tax (GST) for swapping, compared to 5% GST on the purchase of an EV.
  • No incentives yet: Additionally, the government’s FAME-II incentives are not offered to vehicles sold with BaaS or swap station operators.
  • Lack of interoperability infrastructure: While these are economic disadvantages compared to direct charging solutions, the lack of a dense and interoperable battery swap infrastructure has also hindered the roll-out.

Issues highlighted by industry

  • Swapping will require a great deal of battery standardisation which may reduce innovation and would curb investments.
  • Other concerns include accountability for a sub-optimal battery brought in to a swapping station or if it caught fire.
  • Battery swapping has reduced initial investments by EV owners.

Issues with BaaS

  • Standardization of specifications: There is a need for standardization of safety specifications as well as the battery.
  • Safety hazard: Swapping in the various permutations and combinations of batteries at a station where they have not been tested for compatibility could lead to safety hazards.
  • Non-competitive nature: Also, mandating only one type of battery to  be eligible for  concessions  would be  disadvantageous  to  many  players.

Significance of battery swapping

  • High Cost of EVs: An EV, by industry standards, is 1.5-2x costlier than IC Engine counterpart and at least half the cost is from the battery pack.
  • Cost reduction: Many manufacturers are offering batteries separately from a vehicle, reducing the cost. In that case, a fleet owner can buy vehicles without battery and utilize battery swapping.
  • Range Anxiety: Another major reason stopping people from buying EVs is range anxiety, or in simple terms, the fear of battery getting empty without finding a charging station.
  • Inadequate charging infrastructure: Unlike petrol pumps, EV charging stations are rare to spot and that further increases the range anxiety exponentially, especially while going on a road trip.
  • Hazard management: In case of a Swapping Station, one can simply locate a station, go and replace the empty battery with a new one.

 

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Promise and perils of Flex Fuel Vehicles

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Flex Fuel

Mains level : Ethanol blended petrol (EBP) Program

flex

The auto sector is testing many new technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Flex fuel is one technology that has gained currency.

What are Flex Fuel Vehicles?

  • Like traditional vehicles, flex fuel vehicles have an internal combustion engine, but instead of regular petrol, it can run on blended fuel—petrol with ethanol or methanol.
  • The ethanol mix can vary between 20% and 85%.
  • The vehicle has additional sensors and different programming of the engine control module to assess the blend of the fuel and adjust accordingly.
  • Unlike electric hybrid vehicles, no bulky parts need to be added to the basic gasoline vehicle architecture.
  • Upgrading existing vehicles to run on high blend of ethanol fuel, however, is possible but expensive and not considered feasible.

Are they better than traditional vehicles?

  • Flex fuel vehicles are seen as a one-shot solution for multiple problems—pollution, oil import bill and glut in sugar production.
  • According to the US department of energy, they have lower overall greenhouse gas emissions, between 40-108%, depending on the feedstock used to produce them.
  • It could also help bring down India’s crude oil import bill.
  • Further, India also suffers from a glut in sugar production of 6 million tonnes and in sugar season 2020-21, about 2.4 million tonne was diverted to produce 302 litres of ethanol for blending.
  • India has set a target of 20% blending rate for 2025.

Is there a catch in flex-fuel technology?

  • There is unlikely to be any direct benefit to the consumer.
  • Though ethanol costs much lower than petrol at ₹47-64/ltr depending on the sugarcane source, oil marketing companies are expected to pocket the cost differential.
  • It is also controlled by the government. So, chances of frequent revision are high.
  • On the contrary, the fuel economy is likely to fall by 4-8%.

What are the challenges?

flex

  • For mass adoption, an adequate supply of different types of ethanol blends is needed across the country.
  • This would have to be in addition to the existing network as current vehicles on the road would have to be supplied with fuel that has only 10% ethanol blending.
  • This means significant investment in infra by oil firms.
  • At the same time, a constant supply of ethanol would have to be ensured.
  • Since this largely comes from sugarcane in India, which is a water-guzzling crop, any drought could have an impact on blending rates.

How do they fit in with carbon neutrality?

  • With electrification already on the horizon, flex fuel vehicles are seen as a stop-gap arrangement.
  • The benefit for the environment is less as compared to battery EVs or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles of the future.
  • With much lower cost of running, they also offer better economy for consumers.
  • The Toyota pilot project notwithstanding, there is also resistance from the industry.
  • They want to prioritize investments and not get stretched thin between hybrid and battery electric, fuel cell and flex fuel technologies.

 

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FAME India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FAME India scheme

Mains level : sustainable mobility

FAMEContext

  • Centralized procurement of 5,450 electric buses and subsequent increase in ambition to have 50,000 e-buses on the country’s roads by 2030 under FAME scheme.
  • With the shared aim to rapidly electrify a key pillar of India’s public transportation, recent governance efforts of Union and state governments have created a new business model for e-buses.

Status of State-owned buses

  • Status: There are currently around 1,40,000 registered public buses on India’s roads.
  • Condition: Large numbers of them having sputtering engines which emits planet-warming fumes into the atmosphere. At least 40,000 of these buses are at the end of their lifespan and must be taken off the roads
  • Operators: Most buses are owned and operated by State transport undertakings, which are in poor financial health.
  • Revenue loss: They incur large losses because of the subsidized fares to crores of Indians each day.
  • Problem: problems of fragmented demand and high prices.
  • Limitation: As State governments control issues such as transit, urban governance and pollution control so there’s a limitation for the nation-wide action on this issue.

FAMEWhat is FAME India scheme?

  • The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020: Is a National Mission document providing the vision and the roadmap for the faster adoption of electric vehicles and their manufacturing in the country.
  • FAME: As part of the NEMMP 2020, Department of Heavy Industry formulated a Scheme viz. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India) Scheme in the year 2015 to promote manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicle technology and to ensure sustainable growth of the same.
  • FAME Phase-II: Government has approved Phase-II of FAME Scheme with an outlay of Rs. 10,000 Crore for a period of 3 years commencing from 1st April 2019.
  • Out of total budgetary support, about 86 percent of fund has been allocated for Demand Incentive so as to create demand for EVs in the country.
  • This phase aims to generate demand by way of supporting 7000 e-Buses, 5 lakh e-3 Wheelers, 55000 e-4 Wheeler Passenger Cars (including Strong Hybrid) and 10 lakh e-2 Wheelers. However, depending upon off-take of different category of EVs, these numbers may vary as the provision has been made for inter as well as intra segment wise f
  • Incentives: Only advanced battery and registered vehicles will be incentivized under the scheme.
  • Coverage: With greater emphasis on providing affordable & environment friendly public transportation options for the masses, scheme will be applicable mainly to vehicles used for public transport or those registered for commercial purposes in e-3W, e-4W and e-bus segments. However, privately owned registered e-2Ws are also covered under the scheme as a mass segment. 

FAMEObstacles in electric vehicle mobility

   EV Cost and Battery cost:

  • The cost is the most concerning point for an individual when it comes to buying an electric vehicle.
  • However, there are many incentives given off by central and state governments. But the common condition in all policies is that the incentives are only applicable for up to a certain number of vehicles only and after removing the discount and incentives the same EV which was looking lucrative to buy suddenly becomes unaffordable

   Beta version of vehicles:

  • Right now, both the technology and companies are new to the market and the products they are manufacturing are possibly facing real costumers for the first time.
  • It’s nearly impossible to make such a complex product like an automobile perfect for the customers in the first go, and as expected the buyers faced many issues. Vehicles like RV400, EPluto 7G, Nexon all them has to update their vehicle up to a very high extent after customer feedback and reviews.

   Poor Infrastructure and range anxiety:

  • Poor infrastructure is among the most pressing issue among people thinking to opt for electric vehicles.
  • Poor infra doesn’t only include a lack of charging stations but also the lack of proper charging set up in their home.

 No Universal charger and Ecosystem (Lack of standardization):

  • Every second electric vehicle-making company has its own different charging port which is becoming a hurdle to setting up a proper charging ecosystem.
  • Also, many EV users complained about facing moral trouble for charging their vehicle in different EV-making Company’s charging stations which can impact the growth of the EV industry.

   Temperature Issues:

  • Temperature can affect the performance of an EV battery at a large extent which makes EV’s inappropriate for too cold (Uttarakhand, Meghalaya) or too hot regions like (Rajasthan, Kerala). The battery can give its ideal performance when it’s in use under the temperature range of 15-40 degrees.

   Environmental concerns:

  • The EV revolution is necessary for the most populated and polluted parts of India like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. but in such cities the major chunk of electricity is generated through burning fossil fuels which are equivalent to spreading the pollution through the ICE vehicle smoke, even most of the charging stations are reportedly operating upon diesel-driven electricity generator.

Way ahead

  • With anything new, there will always be challenges.
  • The EV industry is still in a nascent stage in India but developing at a rapid pace. Catching up to speed are the infrastructure requirements to support the EV demand.
  • Even with the current challenges, electric vehicles present huge potential to reduce our carbon footprints and provide a cost-effective system of transportation.
  • And one way to contribute towards this growth is to buy an electric vehicle.

 

Mains Question

Q. What do you understand by FAME India scheme? How it will help tackling climate change? What are the obstacles in implementation of this scheme?

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Why are Electric Vehicles Catching Fire?

The Union government has constituted an expert panel to probe the recent series of battery explosions in electric vehicles (EVs).

Why is the world poised to transition to electric vehicles?

  • The growing concern over climate change has led to global efforts to electrify the transportation sector.
  • In parallel, cost of Li-ion (Lithium-ion) battery technology has decreased by a staggering order of magnitude in the past decade.
  • The convergence of these two factors has resulted in a unique time in our history where we are at the cusp of a dramatic transition in the transportation sector.
  • There are multiple trade-offs in this complex ecosystem: engineering higher safety often results in higher costs and lower driving range.
  • In this competitive landscape where companies are vying for market share, a race to the bottom can compromise safety.

A race to nowhere

  • The world has taken note of this moment with governments providing incentives to usher in the transition and private industry ramping up plans for capturing the market.
  • There is a worldwide race emerging, with vehicle companies, battery manufacturers, and material suppliers vying with each other for market share.
  • However, Li-ion batteries are complex devices requiring a level of sophistication that can takes years to perfect.
  • Hurrying the development of this complex technology without careful safeguards are leading to increasing safety incidents, as evidenced recently on Indian roads.

What goes into a Li-ion battery?

  • Every Li-ion battery consists of three active components:
  1. Anode: typically graphite
  2. Cathode: based on a nickel, cobalt, and manganese-based oxide; and
  3. Electrolyte: A salt of lithium in an inorganic solvent
  • Battery cells are assembled into modules and then further assembled into packs.
  • Li-ion batteries require tight control on the state of charge and the temperature of operation to enhance safety and increase usable life, achieved by adding multiple sensors.
  • Packs are designed to ensure uniform temperature profile with minimal thermal variation during operation.

What is the level of precision involved?

  • Battery manufacturing is a complex operation involving forming sheets of the anode and cathode and assembling them into a sandwich structure held apart by a thin separator.
  • Separators, about 15 microns in thickness — about a fifth of the thickness of the human hair — perform the critical function of preventing the anode and cathode from shorting.
  • Accidental shorting of the electrodes is a known cause of fires in Li-ion cells.
  • It is important that the various layers are assembled with high precision with tight tolerances maintained throughout the manufacturing process.
  • Safety features, such as thermal switches that turn off if the battery overheats, are added as the sandwich is packaged into a battery cell.

What causes battery fires?

  • Battery fires, like other fires, occur due to the convergence of three parts of the “fire triangle”: heat, oxygen, and fuel.
  • If an adverse event such as a short circuit occurs in the battery, the internal temperature can raise as the anode and cathode release their energy through the short.
  • This, in turn, can lead to a series of reactions from the battery materials, especially the cathode, that release heat in an uncontrolled manner, along with oxygen.
  • Such events also rupture the sealed battery further exposing the components to outside air and the second part of the fire triangle, namely, oxygen.
  • The final component of the triangle is the liquid electrolyte, which is highly flammable and serves as a fuel.
  • The combination leads to a catastrophic failure of the battery resulting in smoke, heat, and fire, released instantaneously and explosively.

What triggers battery fire?

  • The trigger for such events can be a result of internal shorts (like a manufacturing defect that results in sharp objects penetrating the separator).
  • The external events may be accident leading to puncture of the cell and shorting of the electrodes, overcharging the battery.
  • Any of these triggers may cascade into a significant safety incident.

Are battery fires inevitable?

  • Over the past three decades, Li-ion batteries have proved to be extremely safe, with the industry increasing controls as safety incidents have surfaced.
  • Safety is a must and is an important consideration that battery and vehicle manufacturers can design for at multiple levels from the choice of battery material to designs at the cell, pack, and vehicle level.
  • Protecting the cell with robust thermal management is critical, especially in India where ambient temperatures are high.
  • Finally, battery packs need to be protected from external penetration.
  • Any large-scale manufacturing process inevitably has a certain percentage of defects; therefore, such steps are needed to minimise the number of adverse events.

Why battery safety matters?

  • Safety remains a concern for Li-ion manufacturers worldwide especially as cell sizes become larger for applications such as solar-connected storage.
  • There is a need to remove the threat of battery fires as the roll out of mass electrification takes place.

 

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NITI Aayog’s Draft Battery Swapping Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BaaS

Mains level : Batter Swapping

The NITI Aayog has released a draft battery-swapping policy targeted at electric two- and three-wheelers as the government think tank aims to expedite large-scale adoption of EVs.

What is Battery Swapping?

  • Battery swapping is a mechanism that involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones.
  • This provides the flexibility to charge these batteries separately by de-linking charging and battery usage, and keeps the vehicle in operational mode with negligible downtime.
  • Battery swapping is generally used for smaller vehicles such as two-wheelers and three-wheelers with smaller batteries that are easier to swap, compared to four-wheelers and e-buses, although solutions are emerging for these larger segments as well.

What is BaaS?

  • Battery-as-a-service (BaaS) is seen as a viable charging alternative.
  • Manufacturers can sell EVs in two forms: Vehicles with fixed or removable batteries and vehicles with batteries on lease.
  • If you buy an electric scooter with battery leasing, you do not pay for the cost of the battery—that makes the initial acquisition almost 40% cheaper.
  • Users can swap drained batteries for a fully charged one at a swap station. The depleted batteries are then charged on or off-site.
  • The advantages of swapping include low downtimes for commercial fleets, reduced space requirements, and lower upfront costs.
  • It is also a viable solution for those who don’t have parking spots at home.

Draft Battery Swapping Policy: Key Proposals

  • Rationalizing taxes on battery: The draft policy has suggested that the GST Council consider reducing the differential across the tax rates on Lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicle supply equipment. Currently, the tax rate on the former is 18 per cent, and 5 per cent on the latter.
  • Incentivization for swapping enabled vehicles: The policy also proposes to offer the same incentives available to electric vehicles that come pre-equipped with a fixed battery to electric vehicles with swappable batteries. The size of the incentive could be determined based on the kWh (kilowatt hour) rating of the battery and compatible EV.
  • Terms of contracts for battery providers: The government will specify a minimum contract duration for a contract to be signed between EV users and battery providers to ensure they continue to provide battery swapping services after receiving the subsidy.
  • Public battery charging stations: The policy also requires state governments to ensure public battery charging stations are eligible for EV power connections with concessional tariffs. It also proposes to install battery swapping stations at several locations like retail fuel outlets, public parking areas, malls, kirana shops and general stores etc.
  • Tariff rationalization: It also proposes to bring such stations under existing or future time-of-day (ToD) tariff regimes, so that the swappable batteries can be charged during off-peak periods when electricity tariffs are low.
  • Registration ease: Transport Departments and State Transport Authorities will be responsible for easing registration processes for vehicles sold without batteries or for vehicles with battery swapping functionality.
  • Unique identification number (UIN): The policy also proposes to assign a UIN to swappable batteries at the manufacturing stage to help track and monitor them. Similarly, a UIN number will be assigned to each battery swapping station.
  • Locations: The NITI Aayog has proposed that all metropolitan cities with a population of more than 40 lakh will be prioritized for the development of battery swapping networks under the first phase, which is within 1-2 years of the draft policy getting finalized.

Why hasn’t BaaS taken off yet?

  • Hefty taxes: There are economic and operational constraints. Energy service providers offering swapping solutions have to charge 18% goods and services tax (GST) for swapping, compared to 5% GST on the purchase of an EV.
  • No incentives yet: Additionally, the government’s FAME-II incentives are not offered to vehicles sold with BaaS or swap station operators.
  • Lack of interoperability infrastructure: While these are economic disadvantages compared to direct charging solutions, the lack of a dense and interoperable battery swap infrastructure has also hindered the roll-out.

Does the draft policy talk about EV safety?

  • To ensure a high level of protection at the electrical interface, a rigorous testing protocol will be adopted, the draft said, to avoid any unwanted temperature rise at the electrical interface.
  • The battery management system, which is a software that controls battery functions, will have to be self-certified and open for testing to check its compatibility with various systems, and capability to meet safety requirements.
  • This particularly assumes significance given the recent incidents of electric two-wheelers bursting into flames.

Issues with BaaS

  • Standardization of specifications: There is a need for standardization of safety specifications as well as the battery.
  • Safety hazard: Swapping in the various permutations and combinations of batteries at a station where  they  have not been tested for compatibility could lead to safety hazards.
  • Non-competitive nature: Also, mandating only one type of battery to  be eligible for  concessions  would be  disadvantageous  to  many  players.

Significance of battery swapping

  • High Cost of EVs: An EV, by industry standards, is 1.5-2x costlier than IC Engine counterpart and at least half the cost is from the battery pack.
  • Cost reduction: Many manufacturers are offering batteries separately from a vehicle, reducing the cost. In that case, a fleet owner can buy vehicles without battery and utilize battery swapping.
  • Range Anxiety: Another major reason stopping people from buying EVs is range anxiety, or in simple terms, the fear of battery getting empty without finding a charging station.
  • Inadequate charging infrastructure: Unlike petrol pumps, EV charging stations are rare to spot and that further increases the range anxiety exponentially, especially while going on a road trip.
  • Hazard management: In case of a Swapping Station, one can simply locate a station, go and replace the empty battery with a new one.

 

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India’s Lithium Dependency Worries

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Solid-state lithium ion battery

Mains level : Read the attached story

Lithium has been among the most sought-after mineral during the past few years, largely on the back of its usage in battery manufacturing.

India is at odds with a major import source for the mineral, China.

About Lithium

  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3.
  • It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable and must be stored in mineral oil.
  • When cut, it exhibits a metallic lustre, but moist air corrodes it quickly to a dull silvery grey, then black tarnish.
  • Lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.
  • It is a crucial building block of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile phones.

Lithium-ion batteries

  • A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery.
  • They are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles and are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications.
  • A prototype Li-ion battery was developed by Akira Yoshino in 1985, based on earlier research by John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Koichi Mizushima during the 1970s–1980s.
  • In 2019, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to this trio “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”.

Global producers of lithium

  • Australia and Chile have swapped positions as the world’s leading lithium-producing country over the past decade. In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium producers were:
  1. Australia – 52.9% of global production
  2. Chile – 21.5%
  3. China – 9.7%
  4. Argentina – 8.3%
  5. Zimbabwe – 2.1%
  • The U.S. ranked 7th with 1.2% of the world’s lithium production.
  • In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium reserves by country were:
  1. Chile – 55.5% of the world’s total
  2. Australia – 18.1%
  3. Argentina – 11.0%
  4. China – 6.5%
  5. U.S. – 4.1%

Why is India looking for lithium?

  • India has been scouting for lithium reserves since the Centre’s push to boost the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.
  • The ₹18,000 crore production-linked incentive scheme for advanced chemistry cell (ACC) battery storage, a flagship incentive scheme for the industry has kicked off.
  • However, the supply of lithium, which is largely an imported product, has declined.
  • With India being in a diplomatic tussle with China, the supplies from the neighbouring country have declined and India too is looking for other import avenues.

Why has the supply of lithium declined?

  • The supply of lithium has not been in line with the surge in demand from electric vehicle makers across the world.
  • China also is witnessing a mismatch between demand and supply, which has led to a rise in prices.

 

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EV Battery Swapping Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EV Battery Swapping Policy

Mains level : Electric mobility

NITI Aayog is holding a consultation on the upcoming electric vehicle (EV) battery swapping policy.

What is BaaS?

  • Battery-as-a-service (BaaS) is seen as a viable charging alternative.
  • Manufacturers can sell EVs in two forms: Vehicles with fixed or removable batteries and vehicles with batteries on lease.
  • If you buy an electric scooter with battery leasing, you do not pay for the cost of the battery—that makes the initial acquisition almost 40% cheaper.
  • Users can swap drained batteries for a fully charged one at a swap station. The depleted batteries are then charged on or off-site.
  • The advantages of swapping include low downtimes for commercial fleets, reduced space requirements, and lower upfront costs.
  • It is also a viable solution for those who don’t have parking spots at home.

What is battery interoperability?

  • That’s when a battery is compatible across vehicles and chargers, so you can seamlessly swap a battery at any swap station. This can help achieve scale.
  • However, manufacturer and service providers say there are safety concerns around the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model and caution too much standardization can kill innovation.

Why hasn’t BaaS taken off yet?

  • There are economic and operational constraints.
  • Energy service providers offering swapping solutions have to charge 18% goods and services tax (GST) for swapping, compared to 5% GST on the purchase of an EV.
  • Additionally, the government’s FAME-II incentives are not offered to vehicles sold with BaaS or swap station operators.
  • While these are economic disadvantages compared to direct charging solutions, the lack of a dense and interoperable battery swap infrastructure has also hindered the roll-out.
  • Manufacturers, on the other hand, are keen to create proprietary battery and charging systems.

Issues with BaaS

  • There is a need for standardization of safety specifications  as well as  the battery.
  • Swapping in the various permutations and combinations of batteries at a station  where  they  have not been tested for compatibility could lead to safety hazards.
  • Also, mandating only one type of battery to  be eligible for  concessions  would be  disadvantageous  to  many  players.

Who offers BaaS in India?

  • Bengaluru-based startup Bounce is the first e-two-wheeler maker to sell its scooters with BaaS, and claims to have achieved a million battery swaps.
  • Others like Ola Electric and Ather have stuck to direct charging solutions, while Hero Electric offers both fixed and removable batteries.
  • Many makers are working with energy service providers to offer battery swapping.
  • The global precedent is a mixed bag: Ample, which offers swaps in the US, has found success with commercial fleets, while most personal users charge at home.

Why is Battery Swapping needed?

  • High Cost of EVs: An EV, by industry standards, is 1.5-2x costlier than IC Engine counterpart and at least half the cost is from the battery pack.
  • Cost reduction: Many manufacturers are offering batteries separately from a vehicle, reducing the cost. In that case, a fleet owner can buy vehicles without battery and utilize battery swapping.
  • Range Anxiety: Another major reason stopping people from buying EVs is range anxiety, or in simple terms, the fear of battery getting empty without finding a charging station.
  • Inadequate charging infrastructure: Unlike petrol pumps, EV charging stations are rare to spot and that further increases the range anxiety exponentially, especially while going on a road trip.
  • Hazard management: In case of a Swapping Station, one can simply locate a station, go and replace the empty battery with a new one.

 

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India’s electric vehicle push will lead to brighter, greener future

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FAME 2

Mains level : Paper 3- Promoting EV ecosystem

Context

The transition to electric mobility is a promising global strategy for decarbonising the transport sector.

Electricity mobility revolution

  • The global electric mobility revolution is today defined by the rapid growth in electric vehicle (EV) uptake.
  • This phenomenon is today defined by the rapid growth in EV uptake, with EV sales for the year 2020, reaching 2.1 million.
  • Falling battery costs and rising performance efficiencies are fueling the demand for EVs globally.

Significance of India’s transition to electric mobility

  • India is the fifth largest car market in the world and has the potential to become one of the top three in the near future.
  • India is among a handful of countries that supports the global EV30@30 campaign, which aims for at least 30 per cent new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.
  • Part of global climate agenda: The push for EVs is driven by the global climate agenda established under the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon emissions in order to limit global warming.
  • Ensuring energy security: It is also projected to contribute in improving the overall energy security situation as the country imports over 80 per cent of its overall crude oil requirements, amounting to approximately $100 billion.
  • Job creation: The push is also expected to play an important role in the local EV manufacturing industry for job creation.
  • Strengthen grid operation: Through several grid support services, EVs are expected to strengthen the grid and help accommodate higher renewable energy penetration while maintaining secure and stable grid operation.

Battery storage: Opportunities and challenges

  • Promoting sustainable development: With recent technology disruptions, battery storage has great opportunity in promoting sustainable development in the country, considering government initiatives to promote e-mobility and renewable power (450 GW energy capacity target by 2030).
  • Economic opportunity: With rising levels of per capita income, there has been a tremendous demand for consumer electronics in the areas of mobile phones, UPS, laptops, power banks etc. that require advanced chemistry batteries.
  • This makes manufacturing of advanced batteries one of the largest economic opportunities of the 21st century.
  • Concern of absence of manufacturing base: It is estimated that by 2020-30 India’s cumulative demand for batteries would be approximately 900-1100 GWh, but there is concern over the absence of a manufacturing base for batteries in India, leading to sole reliance on imports to meet rising demand.

Government schemes to promote EV ecosystem

  • To develop and promote the EV ecosystem in the country, government has remodeled Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME II) scheme (Rs 10,000 crore) for the consumer side.
  • It has also launched production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) ( Rs 18,100 crore) for the supplier side.
  • Finally the recently launched PLI scheme for Auto and Automotive Components (Rs 25,938 crore) for manufacturers of electric vehicles was launched.
  • All these forward and backward integration mechanisms in the economy are expected to achieve robust growth in the coming years and will enable India to leapfrog to the environmentally cleaner electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Benefits of EV ecosystem

  • This will not only help the nation conserve foreign exchange but also make India a global leader in manufacturing of EVs and better comply with the Paris Climate Change Agreement..
  • Battery demand creation: All three schemes cumulatively expect an investment of about Rs 1,00,000 crore which will boost domestic manufacturing and also facilitate EVs and battery demand creation along with the development of a complete domestic supply chain and foreign direct investment in the country.
  • Reduction of oil import bill: The programme envisages an oil import bill reduction of about Rs 2 lakh crore and import bill substitution of about Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

Conclusion

India’s push for EV ecosystem is in line with the country’s climate change commitments, will help boost manufacturing sector and also help ensure energy security.

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[pib] E-Amrit Portal for E-Vehicles

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : E-Amrit

Mains level : Not Much

India today launched ‘E-Amrit’, a web portal on electric vehicles (EVs), at the ongoing COP26 Summit in Glasgow, UK.

It is a must-go portal for every aspirant. Click here to visit E-Amrit.

E-Amrit Portal

  • E-Amrit is a one-stop destination for all information on electric vehicles—busting myths around the adoption of EVs, their purchase, investment opportunities, policies, subsidies, etc.
  • The portal has been developed and hosted by NITI Aayog under a collaborative knowledge exchange programme with the UK government.

Features of the portal

  • It intends to complement initiatives of the government on raising awareness about EVs.
  • It aims to sensitize consumers on the benefits of switching to electric vehicles.

Need for E-Amrit

  • In the recent past, India has taken many initiatives to accelerate the decarbonization of transport and adoption of electric mobility in the country.
  • Schemes such as FAME and PLI are especially important in creating an ecosystem for the early adoption of EVs.

 

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Are solar electricity and electric vehicles really ‘clean’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Costs of cleaner energy alternatives

It Matters How the Electricity Is Made

  • Among the many drivers of global warming, electricity generation/consumption and transportation of people and goods have been identified as two important drivers which contribute almost 50% to the emissions load.
  • Against this backdrop, two non-food or agriculture technologies that have been projected and implemented as ‘clean alternatives’ to mitigate the global warming phenomenon are:
  1. Solar photovoltaics for electricity generation
  2. Electrification of transport

Cleanliness of these alternatives

  • There is a general propensity to push these two alternatives in terms of energy and financial return on investments but very little is being said upfront about environmental cost and effect.
  • Both these technologies indeed lead to significantly reduced emissions after they are implemented.
  • The catchphrase here, however, is after!
  • There is little information or discussion in the public domain about upfront environmental cost as it is an inconvenient truth that cannot be wished away.

Why aren’t they clean

  • Prior to their implementation, a lot of different human-made materials have to be synthesized from naturally occurring raw materials.
  • Then, these have to be put together as a functioning unit or a device for a specific purpose.
  • These processes, unfortunately, are both energy- and emissions-intensive and to realise the extent of these intensities, one needs to go behind the scene.

Critical analysis

[1] Solar energy

  • The dominant market player in the field of solar energy conversion to electricity is silicon-based modules occupying more than 90 per cent of the installed capacity.
  • These modules are made of elements as well as inorganic and organic compounds such as silicon, aluminum, copper, silver, glass, epoxy, plastics and are generally installed using steel and concrete.
  • All these materials are human-made and hence need to be synthesized utilizing naturally occurring raw materials.
  • These synthesis processes are energy- and water-consuming and emit greenhouse gasses and pollutants into the atmosphere — dark horses in the chain of realization of solar energy conversion to electricity.
  • Information regarding the environmental costs of these processes is not extensively mentioned in the public domain except for a few occasional studies.
  • These studies indicate that the CO2(e) gasses emission due to solar panel manufacturing alone is about 2,560 kg per kilowatt of installed capacity, which is quite significant.

[2] Electrification of transportation

  • This involves the substitution of current petrol, diesel and gas combustion-powered engines in automobiles with electric engines.
  • The two main components of such an automobile, therefore, are: the engine which converts electrical energy to propulsion and a battery.
  • The electric engine or motor has been known for a long time but for the above application, it needs to have high energy density along with being compact and lightweight.
  • This can be accomplished by using what is known as ‘rare earth’ magnets which require extensive mining and processing which are environmentally intensive activities.
  • A closer look at the Li-ion battery shows that it requires a 40-kilowatt-hour battery and putting together such a battery results in releasing about 3,000 Kg of CO2(e) gasses into the

The Indian scenario

After looking at the behind-the-scenes emissions scenario of the two technologies, let us put Indian goals into perspective with respect to these two technologies.

Solar energy

  • It was recently announced that India will have an installed capacity of 100 gigawatt (GW) for electricity generation by solar photovoltaics by the year 2022.
  • This will mean gaseous emissions to the tune of 0.256 GTons of CO2(e) for manufacturing of solar panels, which is a staggering amount from this activity alone.
  • It should be noted here that installation of 100 GW electrical power generation plants will actually result in only 25 GW of usable electricity at best, assuming an efficiency of 25 per cent, which itself is quite high.
  • If, on the other hand, we would like to have 100 GW of usable electrical power being generated by solar photovoltaics, it will result in emissions to the tune of 1.024 GTons of CO2(e), which is enormous.
  • This is an upfront loading of the environment with greenhouse gasses gases and excludes the embodied carbon in batteries, inverters, junction boxes, wiring and so on.

Electric automobiles

  • The Union transportation minister has recently announced that India will become the largest manufacturer of electric vehicles and Li-ion batteries will be manufactured in India within the next six months.
  • To replace about a million conventional fuel-based vehicles (a fraction of the existing vehicles), it will result in upfront loading to the tune of 3 MTons of CO2(e) greenhouse gasses, just due to the battery assembly process alone.
  • The environmental costs due to electric motor manufacturing, mining of raw materials required for the battery and generation of electricity to run these million electric automobiles will be additional.
  • In both cases, the water requirement and particulate emissions have not been included, both of which are strongly linked to ecology and the environment.

Conclusion

  • It is very clear from the two technologies and the related national goals that huge environmental, human, as well as economic costs, need to be paid upfront to realise these goals.
  • The task becomes even more daunting as the infrastructure required to make either solar grade Si or for that matter put together a million Li-ion batteries is non-existent at present.
  • In light of these facts, it becomes imperative to realign goals and prioritize steps to be taken to alleviate the problem of emissions and the associated global warming.

Way forward

  • It is important to try various less harmful alternatives.
  • On another note, it is time to legislate so that businesses will also include the costs of atmospheric pollution together with their profit and loss statements.

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India’s ethanol roadmap: The targets and challenges

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ethanol blended petrol

Mains level : Ethanol blended petrol (EBP) Program

The government of India has advanced the target for 20 per cent ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) to 2025 from 2030. E20 will be rolled out from April 2023.

What is the move?

  • A government-appointed panel has recommended to the Centre to keep the price of ethanol-blended petrol lower than normal petrol in view of lower calorific value as also to incentivize people to go for the clean fuel.
  • This measure is aimed at reducing the country’s oil import bill and carbon dioxide pollution. This new initiative is also part of measures to improve energy security and self-sufficiency measures.

Roadmap for Ethanol Blending

  • The central government has released an expert committee report on the Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India by 2025.
  • The roadmap proposes a gradual rollout of ethanol-blended fuel to achieve E10 fuel supply by April 2022 and phased rollout of E20 from April 2023 to April 2025.
  • Currently, 8.5 per cent of ethanol is blended with petrol in India.
  • In order to introduce vehicles that are compatible the committee recommends roll out of E20 material-compliant and E10 engine-tuned vehicles from April 2023 and production of E20-tuned engine vehicles from April 2025.

What is included in the roadmap?

(1) Energy security

  • The Union government has emphasized that increased use of ethanol can help reduce the oil import bill.
  • India’s net import cost stands at $551 billion in 2020-21. It is estimated that the E20 program can save the country $4 billion (Rs 30,000 crore) per annum.
  • Last year, oil companies procured ethanol worth about Rs 21,000 crore.
  • Hence it is benefitting the sugarcane farmers.
  • Further, the government plans to encourage the use of water-sparing crops, such as maize, to produce ethanol, and the production of ethanol from the non-food feedstock.

(2) Fuel efficiency

  • There is an estimated loss of six-seven per cent fuel efficiency for four-wheelers and three-four per cent for two-wheelers when using E20, the committee report noted.
  • These vehicles are originally designed for E0 and calibrated for E10.
  • The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers informed the expert committee that with modifications in engines (hardware and tuning), the loss in efficiency due to blended fuel can be reduced.

(3) Recalibrating engines

  • The use of E20 will require new engine specifications and changes to the fuel lines, as well as some plastic and rubber parts due to the fuel’s corrosive nature.
  • The engines, moreover, will need to be recalibrated to achieve the required power-, efficiency- and emission-level balance due to the lower energy density of the fuel.
  • This can be taken care of by producing compatible vehicles.

(4) Vehicles rollout

  • E20 material compliant and E10 compliant vehicles may be rolled out across the country from April 2023, the committee noted.
  • These vehicles can tolerate 10 to 20 per cent of ethanol-blended petrol and also deliver optimal performance with E10 fuel.
  • Vehicles with E20-tuned engines can be rolled out all across the country from April 2025.
  • These vehicles would run on E20 only and will provide high performance.

(5) Flex-fuel

  • A flexible-fuel vehicle (FFV) is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel and both fuels are stored in the same common tank.
  • The Union ministry of road transport and highways issued a gazette notification March 2021 mandating stickers on vehicles mentioning their E20, E85 or E100 compatibility.
  • This will pave the way for flex fuel vehicles.

Why such a move?

(1) Fuel efficiency

  • Considering just the end use also indicates that CO2 emissions from blended fuel are lower than that for petrol since ethanol contains less carbon than petrol and produces less CO2.
  • The blended fuel burns more efficiently with a more homogenous mixture, which leads to a decrease in CO2 emissions compared with pure petrol.
  • The carbon dioxide released by a vehicle when ethanol is burned is offset by the carbon dioxide captured when the feedstock crops are grown to produce ethanol.
  • Comparatively, no emissions are offset when these petroleum products are burned.

(2) Emission reduction

  • Use of ethanol-blended petrol decreases emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), the expert committee noted.
  • Higher reductions in CO emissions were observed with E20 fuel — 50 per cent lower in two-wheelers and 30 per cent lower in four-wheelers.
  • HC emissions reduced by 20 per cent with ethanol blends compared to normal petrol.
  • Nitrous oxide emissions, however, did not show a significant trend as it depended on the vehicle / engine type and engine operating conditions.
  • The unregulated carbonyl emissions, such as acetaldehyde emission were, however, higher with E10 and E20 compared to normal petrol.
  • However, these emissions were relatively lower. Evaporative emission test results with E20 fuel were similar to E0.

Global shreds of evidence

  • An increase in the ethanol content in fuels reduced the emissions of some regulated pollutants such as CO, HC and CO2.
  • However, no such change in emissions was observed for nitrogen oxides emissions.
  • The addition of ethanol, with a high blending octane number, however, allowed a reduction in aromatics in petrol.
  • Such blends also burn cleaner as they have higher octane levels than pure petrol but have higher evaporative emissions from fuel tanks and dispensing equipment.

Challenges ahead

  • Petrol requires extra processing to reduce evaporative emissions before blending with ethanol.
  • It is crucial to study the emissions from flexible fuel vehicles not only for the regulated gases but also the unregulated ones.
  • But producing and burning ethanol results in CO2 emissions.
  • Hence, net CO2 emission benefit depends on how ethanol is made and whether or not indirect impacts on land use are included in the calculations.
  • In summary, as we progress towards higher blending of ethanol, careful monitoring and assessment of emissions changes will be needed to make sure that emission reduction potential can be enhanced.

Back2Basics: EBP Programme

  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme was launched in January, 2003 for supply of 5% ethanol blended petrol.
  • The programme sought to promote the use of alternative and environment-friendly fuels and to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
  • OMCs are advised to continue according to priority of ethanol from 1) sugarcane juice/sugar/sugar syrup, 2) B-heavy molasses 3) C-heavy molasses and 4) damaged food grains/other sources.
  • At present, this programme has been extended to the whole of India except UTs of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands with effect from 01st April 2019 wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%.

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Being petroleum independent

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FAME

Mains level : Paper 3- Reducing India's energy import dependence

The article discusses the steps taken by the government to improve fuel efficiency standards and the for the transition to clean sources of energy.

Reducing energy import dependence

  • Speaking on the increase in petrol and diesel prices, Prime Minister emphasised the need for clean sources of energy.
  • Expanding and diversifying energy supply is good, but if India is to reduce its energy import dependence, it must look towards first managing the demand for petroleum products.
  • It is worthwhile to reflect on measures taken by the previous governments as well as this government in this context.

Steps taken

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan

  • The UPA-2 administration formulated fuel efficiency standards for passenger vehicles that are now in effect.
  • It also constituted the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP).
  • While well-intended, both these actions fell short in terms of ambition.
  • India’s 2022 fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars are nearly 20% less stringent than the European Union’s standards.
  • The NEMMP primarily focused on hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Most of the incentives under the NEMMP went towards subsidising mild hybrids instead of electric vehicles.

Multiple fuel pathways

  • Recently, the government has encouraged multiple fuel pathways in the transport sector including natural gas.
  • The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME-II) scheme now focuses largely on electric vehicles.
  • The government has also provided several additional fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to encourage a transition to electric vehicles.

Steps need to be taken

  • There are many things that the government can and should do to
  • First, the government should formulate a zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) programme that would require vehicle manufacturers to produce a certain number of electric vehicles.
  • At present, the electric mobility initiative in India is driven largely by new entrants in the two- and three-wheeler space.
  • A ZEV programme would require all manufacturers to start producing electric vehicles across all market segments.
  • The government should also strengthen fuel efficiency requirements for new passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
  • Two-wheelers, which consume nearly two-third of the petrol used in India, are not subject to any fuel efficiency standards.
  •  Adopting stringent fuel efficiency standards and a ZEV programme by 2024 can result in India’s petroleum demand peaking by 2030.
  • The FAME should be extended not only to all passenger cars and commercial vehicles but also to agricultural tractors.

Conclusion

As the economy recovers from the pandemic, the demand for petroleum products will rise, as will prices. But the government can save money for the consumer while enhancing long-term energy security by wielding the regulatory tools at its disposal.

 

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Explained: National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NHEM

Mains level : Hydrogen as clean fuel

Recently, the Finance Minister in her budget speech formally announced the National Hydrogen Energy Mission which aims for generation of hydrogen from green power resources.

Background

  • With this announcement, India has made an uncharacteristically early entry in the race to tap the energy potential of the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen.
  • The proposal in the Budget will be followed up with a mission draft over the next couple of months — a roadmap for using hydrogen as an energy source.
  • The mission would have a specific focus on green hydrogen, dovetailing India’s growing renewable capacity with the hydrogen economy.

Hydrogen as an element

  • The most common element in nature is not found freely.
  • Hydrogen exists only combined with other elements and has to be extracted from naturally occurring compounds like water (which is a combination of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom).
  • Although hydrogen is a clean molecule, the process of extracting it is energy-intensive.
  • The sources and processes, by which hydrogen is derived, are categorised by colour tabs.

Its types as fuel

  • Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is called grey hydrogen; this constitutes the bulk of the hydrogen produced today.
  • Hydrogen generated from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage options is called blue hydrogen; hydrogen generated entirely from renewable power sources is called green hydrogen.
  • In the last process, electricity generated from renewable energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Hydrogen for mobility

  • While proposed end-use sectors include steel and chemicals, the major industry that hydrogen has the potential of transforming is transportation.
  • This sector contributes a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and where hydrogen is being seen as a direct replacement of fossil fuels, with specific advantages over traditional EVs.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell cars have a near-zero carbon footprint.
  • Hydrogen is about two to three times as efficient as burning petrol because an electric chemical reaction is much more efficient than combustion.

We already had H-CNG!

  • In October 2020, Delhi became the first Indian city to operate buses running on hydrogen spiked compressed natural gas (H-CNG) in a six-month pilot project.
  • The buses will run on a new technology patented by Indian Oil Corp for producing H-CNG — 18 per cent hydrogen in CNG — directly from natural gas, without resorting to conventional blending.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2019:

In the context of proposals to the use of hydrogen-enriched CNG (H-CNG) as fuel for buses in public transport, consider the following statements :
1. The main advantage of the use of H-CNG is the elimination of carbon monoxide emissions.
2. H-CNG as a fuel reduces carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions.
3. Hydrogen up to one-fifth by volume can be blended with CNG as fuel for buses.
4. H-CNG makes the fuel less expensive than CNG.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Green hydrogen has specific advantages

  1. One, it is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonize a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  2. Two, renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
  • This is what the government’s Hydrogen Energy Mission, to be launched in 2021-22, aims for.

Philosophy behind NHEM

  • India’s electricity grid is predominantly coal-based and will continue to be so.
  • In several countries that have gone in for an EV push, much of the electricity is generated from renewables — in Norway for example, it is 99 per cent from hydroelectric power.
  • Experts believe hydrogen vehicles can be especially effective in long-haul trucking and other hard-to-electrify sectors such as shipping and long-haul air travel.
  • Using heavy batteries in these applications would be counterproductive, especially for countries such as India, where the electricity grid is predominantly coal-fired.

Back2Basics: How hydrogen fuel cells work?

  • Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not a source of energy.
  • Hydrogen fuel must be transformed into electricity by a device called a fuel cell stack before it can be used to power a car or truck.
  • A fuel cell converts chemical energy into electrical energy using oxidizing agents through an oxidation-reduction reaction.
  • Inside each individual fuel cell, hydrogen is drawn from an onboard pressurized tank and made to react with a catalyst, usually made from platinum.
  • As the hydrogen passes through the catalyst, it is stripped of its electrons, which are forced to move along an external circuit, producing an electrical current.
  • This current is used by the electric motor to power the vehicle, with the only byproduct being water vapour.

  Issues with H-Fuel cells

  • A big barrier to the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has been a lack of fuelling station infrastructure.
  • There are fewer than 500 operational hydrogen stations in the world today, mostly in Europe, followed by Japan and South Korea.
  • Safety is seen as a concern. Hydrogen is pressurized and stored in a cryogenic tank, from there it is fed to a lower-pressure cell and put through an electrochemical reaction to generate electricity.
  • Scaling up the technology and achieving critical mass remains the big challenge.
  • More vehicles on the road and more supporting infrastructure can lower costs. India’s proposed mission is seen as a step in that direction.

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Green Tax for personal vehicles older than 15 years

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green tax

Mains level : Vehicular pollution and its control

The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has approved a proposal to levy a ‘green tax’ on old vehicles.

Do read about Green Mobility, India’s FAME-I and II Scheme.

Green Tax

  • Personal vehicles will be charged a tax at the time of renewal of Registration Certification after 15 years.
  • The policy will come into effect from April 1, 2022.
  • The levy may differ depending on fuel (petrol/diesel) and type of vehicle.
  • The proposal will now go to the States for consultation before it is formally notified.
  • It includes 10-25% of road tax on transport vehicles older than eight years at the time of renewal of fitness certificate.
  • The proposal on green tax also includes a steeper penalty of up to 50% of road tax for older vehicles registered in some of the highly polluted cities in the country.
  • Revenue collected from this tax will be kept in a separate account and will be used for tackling pollution, and for States to set up state-of-art facilities for emission monitoring.

Why such a move?

  • To dissuade people from using vehicles which damage the environment
  • To motivate people to switch to newer, less polluting vehicles
  • Green tax will reduce the pollution level, and make the polluter pay for pollution

Exemptions to this tax

  • Vehicles like strong hybrids, electric vehicles and alternate fuels like CNG, ethanol, LPG etc to be exempted;
  • Vehicles used in farming, such as tractor, harvester, tiller etc to be exempted;

Other proposals

  • The Ministry also approved a watered-down policy of deregistration and scrapping of vehicles, bringing only those vehicles owned by government departments and PSUs and are older than 15 years under its ambit.
  • In 2016, the Centre had floated a draft Voluntary Vehicle Fleet Modernization Programme that aimed to take 28 million decade-old vehicles off the road.

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Progression to electric vehicles: Challenges and opportunities for India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lithium ion battery

Mains level : Paper 3- Adoption of e-vehicles and challenges

Article highlight India’s preparedness for the faster adoption of electric vehicles and steps taken by the government in this direction.

Why electric mobility matters for India

  • It is important for India because such vehicles are sustainable and profitable in the long term.
  • Reducing dependence on crude oil will save the government money, reduce carbon emissions, and build domestic energy independence.
  • India’s transition to electric vehicles will allow us to fine-tune our infrastructure.
  • This will also influence India’s foreign policy as our energy security dependence will shift from West Asia to Latin America.
  • India imported 228.6 MT of crude oil worth $120 billion in 2018–19, which made it the third-largest oil importer in the world in terms of value.

Government policies

  •  Under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles and its updated (Fame 2) version, the government has allocated $1.3 billion in incentives.
  • A proposal for a $4.6 billion subsidy for battery makers has also been proposed by the NITI Aayog.
  • These policies are embedded with the vision to have 30% electric vehicles plying the roads by 2030.

Developing domestic  battery manufacturing capacity

  • At present, India’s lithium-ion battery demand is fulfilled by imports from China, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.
  • In the last two years, India’s lithium imports have tripled from $384 mn to $1.2 bn.
  • With its policy intervention to support battery manufacturers by supplying lithium and cobalt, this industry is more likely to grow domestically to support India’s goal to switch to electric mobility.
  • In 2019, NALCO, Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) formally signed a joint venture agreement to form Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) to scout for strategic mineral assets like lithium and cobalt abroad for commercial use and for supplying to meet the domestic requirement for battery manufacturers.
  • Developing domestic battery manufacturing capacity may fundamentally change India’s relationship with resource-rich Latin America as the government plans to buy overseas lithium reserves.
  • In Latin America, most of the production comes from Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia which holds about 80% of the explored lithium of the world.
  • Currently, India’s biggest trading partners in Latin America are Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, and majority of trade is concentrated on crude oil which includes 14%-20% of India’s total crude oil imports.
  • This may soon shift to lithium and cobalt.

Conclusion

The Indian government’s initiation to take the front seat in electric mobility and preemptive action to send a high-level delegation to have a precise understanding of the availability of lithium and possibilities of joint ventures will supply domestic markets and drive international markets.

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India to explore Lithium reserves in Argentina

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Lithium production

Mains level : Lithium ion batteries and their significance

India has inked a pact with an Argentine firm to jointly prospect lithium in the South American country.

Why such a move?

  • Currently, India is heavily dependent on import of these cells and the move to ink sourcing pacts for lithium is seen as another salvo in the front against China, a key source of both the raw material and cells.
  • India is seen as a late mover as it attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when EVs are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption.
  • And 2021 is likely to be an inflexion point for battery technology, with several potential improvements to the Li-ion technology.

About Lithium

  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3.
  • It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable and must be stored in mineral oil.
  • When cut, it exhibits a metallic lustre, but moist air corrodes it quickly to a dull silvery grey, then black tarnish.
  • Lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.
  • It is a crucial building block of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile phones.

Global producers of lithium

  • Australia and Chile have swapped positions as the world’s leading lithium-producing country over the past decade. In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium producers were:
  1. Australia – 52.9% of global production
  2. Chile – 21.5%
  3. China – 9.7%
  4. Argentina – 8.3%
  5. Zimbabwe – 2.1%
  • The U.S. ranked 7th with 1.2% of the world’s lithium production.
  • In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium reserves by country were:
  1. Chile – 55.5% of the world’s total
  2. Australia – 18.1%
  3. Argentina – 11.0%
  4. China – 6.5%
  5. U.S. – 4.1%

Lithium-ion batteries

  • A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery.
  • They are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles and are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications.
  • A prototype Li-ion battery was developed by Akira Yoshino in 1985, based on earlier research by John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Koichi Mizushima during the 1970s–1980s.
  • In 2019, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to this trio “for the development of lithium-ion batteries”.

How does it work?

  • In the batteries, lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode during discharge, and back when charging.
  • Li-ion batteries use an intercalated lithium compound as the material at the positive electrode and typically graphite at the negative electrode.
  • The batteries have a high energy density, no memory effect and low self-discharge.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce one of the following as “exhaust”:

(a) NH3

(b) CH4

(c) H2O

(d) H2O2

Limitations

  • Despite the improvements in lithium-ion batteries over the last decade, long charging times and weak energy density are still barriers.
  • The Li-ion batteries are seen as sufficiently efficient for applications such as phones and laptops, in case of EVs.
  • They still lack the range that would make them a viable alternative to internal combustion engines.
  • A number of alternatives are being fostered to achieve more optimal options.

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Green Hydrogen based vehicular fuel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hydrogen fuel cell, H-CNG

Mains level : Paper 3- Adoption of hydrogen as vehicular fuel

Transport sector has been a major contributor of Green House Gases in India. Moving towards cleaner fuels brings to fore two options battery-operated electric vehicle (EV) and hydrogen fuel cell EV. The article compares the two.

Vehicular emission and steps taken to deal  with it

  • The transport sector in India contributes one-third of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, within which the lion’s share is that of road transport.
  • The government has made concerted efforts to tackle vehicular emissions with policies steps and programmes such as the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME I) scheme, FAME II, tax benefits, etc.

Blending hydrogen

  • Typically, hydrogen can be produced in one of three ways, i.e., from fossil fuels (grey hydrogen), through carbon capture utilisation & storage (CCUS) application and fossil fuels (blue hydrogen), or by using renewable energy (green hydrogen). 
  • Indian Oil Corporation Limited has patented a technology that produces H-CNG (18% hydrogen in CNG) directly from natural gas, without having to undertake expensive conventional blending.
  • This compact blending process provides a 22% reduction in cost as compared to conventional blending.
  • In comparison to CNG, H-CNG allows for a 70% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions and a 25% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions.
  • The new H-CNG technology requires only minor tweaks in the current design of CNG buses.
  • However, the issue is that the  Hydrogen-spiked CNG is still being produced from natural gas-a fossil fuel.

Electric vehicle Vs. Fuel cell

  • From a commercial viability standpoint, two cleaner fuel alternatives come to mind—battery-operated electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
  • Hydrogen FCEVs has reduced refuelling time (5 minutes versus 30-40 minutes with fast charges), higher energy density, longer range, etc.
  • However, one needs to focus on is the entire life cycle of these vehicles as opposed to restricting the analysis to just the carbon-free tailpipe emissions.
  • According to a report by Deloitte (2020) on hydrogen and fuel cells, the lifecycle GHG emissions from hydrogen FCEVs ranges between 130-230 g CO2e per km.
  • The lower end of the range depicts the case of hydrogen production from renewables while the higher end reflects the case of hydrogen production from natural gas.
  • The corresponding life cycles GHG emissions for BEV and internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles range between 160-250 g CO2e and 180-270 g CO2e respectively.
  • The cost of lithium ion-based battery-operated vehicles has been reducing while hydrogen fuel cell technology is relatively quite expensive.
  • A hydrogen-run vehicle achieves an energy efficiency rate of 25-35% (roughly 45% of energy is lost during the electrolysis process alone).

Way forward

  • Given that these are early days for FCEV, one can be hopeful that we will be able to achieve economies of scale and attain cost reductions.
  • Hydrogen Council (2020) on hydrogen cost competitiveness that states scaling up and augmenting fuel cell production from 10,000 to 200,000 units can deliver a 45% reduction in the cost per unit.
  • Similarly, the versatility of hydrogen allows for complementarity across its numerous applications.
  • Moreover, based on the numbers quoted by this report, fuel cell stacks for passenger vehicles are expected to exhibit learning rates of 17% in the coming future.
  • The corresponding figures for commercial vehicles stand at 11%.
  • Efforts are underway in India, and the research activities pertaining to hydrogen have been compiled and recently released in the form of a country status report.
  • In their quest for becoming carbon neutral by 2035, Reliance Industries plan to replace transportation fuels with hydrogen and clean electricity.
  • Similarly, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is considering setting up a green hydrogen production facility in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The ministry of road transport and highways issued a notification proposing amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (1989) to incorporate safety standards for hydrogen fuel cell technology vehicles.
  • As per a policy brief issued by TERI, demand for hydrogen in India is expected to increase 3-10 fold by 2050.

Consider the question “What are the benefits and challenges in the adoption of hydrogen as vehicular fuel?”

Conclusion

Against this backdrop, the future of hydrogen, particularly green hydrogen, looks promising in India.


Source:-

https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/fuelling-a-green-future/2121991/

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Delhi government’s Electric Vehicle Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Electric vehicles regulation in India

Image source: TOI

The Delhi government has notified the new Electric Vehicle Policy under which it aims to make a quarter of all new vehicle registrations battery-operated by 2024 and thereby help reducing air pollution.

Try this PYQ:

Q.In the context of proposals to the use of hydrogen-enriched CNG (H-CNG) as fuel for buses in public transport, consider the following statements:

  1. The main advantage of the use of H-CNG is the elimination of carbon monoxide emissions.
  2. H-CNG as fuel reduces carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions.
  3. Hydrogen up to one-fifth by volume can be blended with CNG as fuel for buses.
  4. H-CNG makes the fuel less expensive than CNG.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2018)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Some key highlights of the policy are:

  • A purchase incentive of Rs 5,000 per kilowatt/hour of battery capacity (advanced battery), a maximum incentive of Rs 30,000 per vehicle for two-wheelers.
  • A purchase incentive of Rs 30,000 per vehicle (advanced battery) for e-autos.
  • A purchase incentive of Rs 30,000 per vehicle for the purchase of one e-rickshaw and e-cart. Additionally, an interest subsidy of 5 per cent on loans on vehicles with advanced battery.
  • Conversion of 50 per cent of all new stage carriage buses (all public transport vehicles with 15 seats or more) by 2022.
  • A purchase incentive of Rs 10,000 per kilowatt/hour of battery capacity (advanced battery), and maximum incentive of Rs 150,000 per vehicle to the first 1,000 e-four wheelers.
  • Complete removal of road tax and registration fee for all battery electric vehicles.

Significance of the policy

  • According to the VAHAN database of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, electric vehicles comprised only 3.2 per cent of the new vehicles registered in Delhi in 2019-20.
  • The proposed 25 per cent transformation of Delhi’s new-vehicle market could catalyse electric vehicle production and bring more product diversity.

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EV battery recycling in India: An opportunity for change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FAME

Mains level : Electric vehicles regulation in India

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the D2E. It focuses on India for not having adequate legislations that can prevent illegal dumping of spent lithium batteries ahead of the FAME-I and II scheme.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What are the different phases of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) Scheme? Discuss various challenges in adopting EV technology in India.

Background

  • Electric vehicles (EV) are a part of the new normal as the global transportation sector undergoes a paradigm shift, with a clear preference towards cleaner and greener vehicles.
  • Like its western counterparts and China, India has pushed the mandate for EVs as well, through schemes such as Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) I and FAME II.
  • EV sales in the country are expected to grow annually at a compound annual growth rate of 35 per cent till 2026, according to a market survey by news daily Economic Times.

Powering the EVs

  • Initially, EVs were powered with lead-acid batteries. Lithium-ion batteries that include other chemical moieties like cobalt, graphite and nickel now form the heart of an EV.
  • At the end of the battery lifespan, what remains is battery waste, comprising enormous amounts of chemicals such as cobalt, electrolytes, lithium, manganese oxide and nickel.

Latent threats to India

  • India, at present, is underprepared for the sheer volume of EV battery waste expected in the coming decade.
  • Most of our e-waste is dumped in landfills.
  • Further, we do not have adequate legislation that can prevent illegal dumping of spent lithium batteries.
  • This sets a dangerous precedent, as India can potentially become a lithium waste dumpsite for not just waste from domestic EVs, but also from import of spent batteries.

There is a legal loophole

  • The most recent legislations — the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2016 and E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018 — evolved considerably in terms of the range of materials.
  • They do not, however, include a cohesive set of rules for the safe disposal of EV batteries.
  • Li-ion batteries, thus, find no mention, in any framework for end-of-life treatment or recycling.

Threats posed by un-recycled batteries

  • The batteries constitute substances that — if not recycled or treated in a proper fashion — can cause harm to both the environment and humans.
  • Further, lithium itself spontaneously reacts with moisture and can lead to major landfill explosions.

Global precedence over batteries regulation:

Several nations are ahead of the curve and have mandated legislations that deal with battery recycling and treatment:

(1) EU Batteries Directive

  • The Batteries Directive was issued by the European Union to minimise the negative impact of batteries and accumulators on the environment.
  • The Batteries Directive broke down the different stages of the process of collection and recycling of waste batteries and issued directions on how each of these must be performed.

(2) Germany

  • Germany puts a legal obligation on producers to collect their products from the consumer and deposit them in containers managed by the GRS Batterien Foundation.
  • It is set up by leading battery manufactures and the German Electrical and Electronics Industry Association in 1998.
  • It ensures collected waste is segregated and sorted according to electrochemical composition — leading to efficient extraction of materials that can be recovered and recycled.

(3) Japan

  • The Japan Battery Recycling Centre (JBRC), established in 2004, is a producer-responsibility organisation that helps keep the process of recycling waste batteries going.
  • Consumers and offices — that utilise technology running on batteries — discharge delivery to collection sites placed with retailers who register with the JBRC as co-operation shops for recycling.
  • The collection sites facilitate segregation of the batteries by providing four different types of labels for four different types of batteries.

Where does India stand among these?

  • The Indian e-waste legal regime underwent a tremendous change over time and has only recently embraced EPR and collection of e-waste.
  • A lack of clear scientific guidelines and regulations tailor-made for li-ion batteries, however, leads to poor return of investments in setting up recycling units, as it is a capital-intensive initiative.
  • In October 2019, the framing of a much-awaited recycling policy was proposed by the Union government.
  • It is, however, still awaited. The first step to creating a circular economy for EV batteries is to expand our laws to include li-ion battery chemistries.

We are late but not the last

  • Large quantities of EV battery waste presented a unique opportunity to nurture a domestic recycling industry, which is currently in its infancy.
  • The process of recycling can help recover up to half the valuable metals, including aluminium, cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese and nickel, which can then be used for secondary applications.
  • Tata Chemicals Ltd, for example, commissioned a li-ion battery recycling plant in Maharashtra in 2019.

Way forward

  • Governments must take a proactive stance when it comes to the development of batteries that cause less harm to the environment.
  • There must be an extended producer responsibility (EPR) mechanism that ensured manufacturers of batteries to bear a legal obligation of their products being safely recycled and disposed of.

Back2Basics: Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles

FAME I

  • In this phase, market creation through demand incentives was aimed at incentivizing all vehicle segments i.e. 2-Wheelers, 3-Wheelers Auto, Passenger 4-Wheeler vehicles, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses.
  • The demand incentive was available to buyers of EV in the form of an upfront reduced purchase price to enable wider adoption.

FAME II

  • This phase will mainly focus on supporting electrification of public & shared transportation, and aims to support through subsidies 7000 e-Buses, 5 lakh e-3 Wheelers, 55000 e-4 Wheeler Passenger Cars and 10 lakh e-2 Wheelers.
  • The scheme will be applicable mainly to vehicles used for public transport or those registered for commercial purposes in e-3W, e-4W and e-bus segments.
  • However, privately-owned registered-2W will also be covered under the scheme as a mass segment.
  • In addition, the creation of charging infrastructure will be supported in selected cities and along major highways to address range anxiety among users of electric vehicles.

Original article:

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/pollution/electric-vehicle-battery-recycling-in-india-an-opportunity-for-change-72621

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National E-Mobility Mission Plan 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National E-Mobility Mission Plan, 2020

Mains level : FAME Scheme and its progress

 

The Supreme Court has sought the response of the government on a petition that alleges the non-implementation of the National E-Mobility Mission Plan, 2020 (NEMMP), which came out in 2012.

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020

  • The plan was launched by the Government of India in 2013 with the objective of achieving national fuel security by promoting electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • It had set a target of achieving a sale of seven million EVs by 2020 and thereby aimed to cut total carbon dioxide emissions by three per cent from the ‘do nothing’ scenario.
  • The government would provide fiscal and monetary incentives for this industry.
  • The plan had made several recommendations for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), including electric-powered government fleets and public transportation and subsidies for those who opt for EVs.

What was the petition about?

  • The petition contended that the governmental apathy has violated the fundamental rights of citizens to health and clean environment guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • The government had failed in its obligation to mitigate the impact of climate change and air pollution partly attributable to emissions from vehicles that burn fossil fuels.
  • Government’s failure to suitably implement these recommendations is the direct cause of air pollution levels that have turned our cities into virtual ‘gas chambers’.

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