Five Reasons EVs Will Deliver On Their Clean Promise

Highlights :

  • Skepticism around EVs has grown in recent months, but we argue that it might be the last push from the legacy auto sector.
  • EVs might have made for a poor alternative in say, 2010, but progress since then has ensured they are  very much a real option now. Here are 5 reasons why.
Five Reasons EVs Will Deliver On Their Clean Promise Rohit Pandit Assumes Role as CMD at Shuzlan Energy

In Part 1 of this two-part series yesterday, we covered the various challenges to Electric Vehicles (EVs), especially regarding their green credentials. However, the EV juggernaut has only picked up speed in India, with the market leader, Tata Motors, which leads in the four-wheeler EV segment with their EV models-Tiago and Nexon is now all set to launch its new EV models — Range Rover and Jaguar. 

New innovations and supportive policies are set to make EV sector greener.

New innovations and supportive policies are set to make EV sector greener. Photo by: Shutterstock

In the two-wheeler EV segment, Ola, Ather, and numerous local and foreign products are trying their hands in the emerging market. However, the four or two-wheelers are not driving the market in India alone. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) claimed that around 50 percent of the total EV sales in India last year came from electric three-wheelers alone. It included passenger and cargo three-wheelers. This segment alone sold 4,25,000 units in 2022.

Studies have revealed that the market size of Lithium-ion batteries in India could go up to 800Gwh by 2030 against its 2.9Gwh market size in 2018.

So the question is, when the Central and state governments, which work with researchers and think tanks, know very well about the hazards of Lithium-ion batteries and EVs, why are they pushing them so hard?  

Following are some of the main reasons why EVs are expected to deliver on their clean promise. Keep in mind that the biggest reason, cost, is also set to be managed much better as these 5 issues below play out, supporting the further spread of EVs.  

1. Lithium battery recycling

While the recycling of Lithium batteries remains a concern, there are also apprehensions of fires and the release of other hazardous materials when such batteries are dumped in dump yards. However, solutions have been found, and are being executed as we write. 

Hydrogen from WastewaterFor example, the Tamil Nadu government recently developed its Electric Vehicle Policy. It announced special incentives for recycling the batteries and connecting the end-of-life batteries to the battery manufacturers to ensure a circular economy. The same is the case of startups, too, which are bringing in innovations.

Metastable Materials is a battery recycling startup. It claims that it can extract 90 percent of the crucial components of batteries like Lithium, Cobalt, and other elements to ensure the reuse of the elements in other industries. There are many other examples too. Different firms are chasing this market, and there is every chance that well before 2025, over 90% of Lithium-ion batteries will be recycled, with over 90% of components extracted for reuse. Other startups like Lohum, Attero and more are also furiously expanding their capacities to recycle Lithium-Ion batteries, and look set to tackle the challenge significantly and ensure a truly circular economy in the segment,  

The Ministry of Environment and Forest also announced its Battery Waste Management Rules in 2022. It put the onus of recycling used Lithium-ion batteries on the producers, dealers, consumers, and entities involved in the collection, segregation, and transportation. These rules ensured the scientific disposal of batteries.

2. Increased use of RE for EV charging

The state government and the EV charging service providers are now working in tandem to shun their dependency on coal-fired thermal energy to ensure the use of only renewable energy in operating EVs. Tata Power, one of the developers of EV charging points in India way back in 2015, started a solar-energy-based EV charging station at Gujarat Secretariat. It is slowly expanding its solar-based charging stations across the country. top 5 most affordable Electric Cars

Several states also include special incentives for using solar energy or any renewable energy for EV charging in their State EV Policies. For example, the latest Tamil Nadu EV Policy proposed treating the cost of solar equipment as equipment cost to install charging stations. It allows special incentives for charging stations that want to use renewable power for public charging stations. Several other states are now also following suit. Moreover, with the solar tariff becoming cheaper than coal-based power, the adoption of solar energy is likely to become more affordable for charging stations. The promulgation of new rules like the Green Open Access Rules means large charging networks can also buy the equivalent green energy for their operations through the grid now. In other words, EV charging could become greener well before the overall grid does now. Doing so will shrink the time for an EV to be net positive in terms of overall emissions sooner.  

3. Rise of solid-state batteries

There are a lot of researchers who have undertaken to bring alternatives to Lithium-ion batteries to avoid the hazards of the same. From China to Europe to the US, global firms like CATL to Quantumscape are set to launch solid-state batteries soon, raising hopes that the runaway dependence on Lithium batteries is set to end soon. Research like the one at Berkeley Lab and Florida State University has now designed a blueprint of solid-state batteries that are less dependent on critical elements and have been found to be more efficient is also pushing the boundaries of possible options. Even the worst skeptic believes that in 2026 they will be available widely in the market.

4. Other Li-ion battery alternatives

Solid-state batteries set to replace lithium-ion batteriesIt’s not like every bet is on solid-state batteries. Works on other alternatives to Lithium-ion batteries are also going on worldwide. For example, lithium and iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4 or LFP) have become an effective alternative to Li-ion batteries. They are lightweight, have a longer life, require lesser lithium and other rare minerals and offer improved charging virtues and battery safety. Lithium Ion batteries are already getting replaced by LFP batteries, with majors like Tesla and top Chinese makers leading the charge.

5. Unexpected benefits for the broader energy economy

Electric vehicles could provide secondary storage, for instance, an experiment that is increasingly being tried out and, with scale, holds great promise. That, if achieved, will be a great way to put to use an unused asset that sits idle for 90% of the time or more in most cases worldwide. This becomes critical as grids in more and more countries fight to upgrade themselves to handle intermittent renewable energy. EVs could provide the extra buffer needed to ensure stability in many pockets and get more out of that vehicle too!

Conclusion: While all these reasons and the issue of the cost of EVs are tackled, readers should realize that the competition for EVs from ICE vehicles will only recede as governments act to force these into retirement, and during such period, a drop in the cost of petrol or diesel fuels is also unlikely as they will more likely be taxed further, should crude oil prices drop.

This is Part II in the series on electric mobility and its impact on the environment., Read Part I (EVs Face A Speed Breaker As Skeptics Gather Evidence Around Key Issues) of the story here

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