Here's How India Can Ensure Smart Infrastructure for EVs

Multiple factors enable the making of a dynamic EV-friendly economy including monetary incentives, charging infrastructure and consumer awareness, among others
Here's How India Can Ensure Smart Infrastructure for EVs
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Co-founder & CEO of ION Energy
4 min read
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The urgent energy crisis and ongoing climate change have shaken the entire world. Switching to efficient and renewable sources of energy and curbing the greenhouse gas emission is of utmost importance at present. Efforts must be made across the globe to realize the alternative. One such alternative is ushering an immediate and worldwide shift to electric vehicle (EV) technology powered by lithium-ion batteries that help preserve the natural fossil fuel reserves by reducing the incessant planetary energy reliance on petrol and gas.

Developed economies such as the US, China, and Europe have already implemented a host of policies that set into motion an all-electric vehicular transition. Compared with India where the EV ecosystem is still at a budding stage, China boasts of about 50 per cent of the entire EV ecosystem in the world.

Multiple factors enable the making of a dynamic EV-friendly economy such as monetary incentives, charging infrastructure, consumer awareness initiatives, mandates for manufacturers, government procurement and supportive fleet operators who aid EV transition.

The most crucial component of an EV is the lithium-ion battery that makes up for up to 40 per cent of the cost, which makes it imperative for a successful and disruptive EV revolution to center on its crux, the battery. In order to accelerate the EV transition, the Indian government and associated decision-makers must ensure the following:

Increased affordability

The central and key factor resulting in the low penetration of the EV technology is the steep price range. Electric cars are usually around 2 or 2.5 times costlier than conventional cars. Necessary steps need to be taken at all levels to ascertain maximum promotion and adoption of EVs.

Investment in charging infrastructure

The lower affordability index in India compared with developing economies due to the relatively low per capita income implies that manufacturers offer medium-range electric vehicles so as to maintain cost price affordability.

This calls for frequent charging of the vehicle especially for commercial fleets rather than private individuals, where vehicles travel far greater distances. A readily accessible charging network is an absolute must for the smooth operation of EVs.

As the charging infrastructure involves substantial installation, operation, and maintenance costs, the government should strategically support the same by providing land at lower rates for setting up charging stations and subsidized electricity tariffs, among others.

Investment in manufacturing cells and lithium-ion battery packs 

The country needs policies that encourage the manufacturing of battery cells in India that use battery chemistry to optimize cost and performance at Indian temperatures. India lacks energy reserves of its own and relies on expensive lithium reports that greatly increase the cost of EV production and procurement.

To bring down the cost of EVs, India should kick-start local production of lithium-ion battery packs.

Battery swapping technology

It is aimed at reducing the upfront costs and accelerating adoption in certain categories of EVs, especially three-wheelers and buses. The high direct costs of electric buses make the battery swapping model seem ideal provided that people invest abundantly in a large number of batteries and charging units.

Optimizing the life of batteries

Advanced battery intelligence platforms are designed to leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital twin and analytics to assess battery data. These platforms help derive valuable insights and send over the air updates that significantly improve battery life and performance while reducing the overall entrepreneurial cost.

Advance training and talent upskilling

The EV industry in India faces a dearth of engineering know-how and scientific innovation as the technology is an amalgamation of numerous engineering inputs such as mechanical, chemical, electric, electronic and material sciences. There are only about 1,000 engineers as opposed to the current demand which is pegged at around 5,000 and is likely to escalate to 15,000 in the next couple of years. The education ministry should also include EV-specific courses at the varsity level as India lags about a decade behind its US counterparts.

Recycling and reusing battery

It is estimated that by 2030, around 6 million battery packs would be retiring from EVs per year. According to IDTechEx’s latest report, Second-life Electric Vehicle Batteries 2020-2030, used batteries could still retain up to 70-80 per cent of their original total capacity and these could be further utilized for a plethora of energy storage applications.

 

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