Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of mobility. With many governments pledging to transition to EVs and giving strong regulatory support, EVs are becoming more widely recognised as a viable alternative to conventional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (ICEVs). EVs are ripe for disruption (just look at Tesla), and India has the chance to reposition itself as a worldwide leader in clean mobility. To make this a reality, India’s young EV industry will need to be supported by a robust battery ecosystem.
Batteries are one of the most important aspects of an EV, accounting for a substantial portion of expenses and having a direct impact on the number one consumer issue for EVs – range. Improving the in-house battery ecosystem is critical for the growth of the Indian EV industry as well as the viability of other green technologies such as renewable energy.
The EV market in India is new, but it is rapidly expanding. It is expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 90% by 2030, reaching $150 billion. The entire number of EVs (two-wheelers, three-wheelers, vehicles, and buses) expected to be sold in 2022 is 10 lakh units, which is the total number of EVs sold in the previous 15 years.
To accommodate this EV demand, the India will require 158 GWh of annual battery capacity by FY30. In 2017, the global output of lithium-ion (li-on) battery cells was 198 GWh. As a result, the task is massive. making up a significant portion of expenses and having a direct impact on range, the primary concern of EV purchasers The growth of the Indian EV industry, as well as the viability of other green technologies such as renewable energy, would be dependent on the development of the indigenous battery ecosystem.
Issues with the Batteries
By FY30, the EV sector will require 158 GWh of annual battery capacity.
These projections raise several serious concerns because li-on batteries are scarce in numerous ways. First off, only a few geographical regions have access to rare earth metals like lithium, nickel, and cobalt which are essential for the manufacture of li-on batteries. For instance, the majority of the world’s sources of nickel and cobalt, respectively, are found in Russia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Furthermore, China owns or runs a large number of mines and refinery facilities for these rare earth elements. This creates a significant difficulty because the majority of EVs in India use imported batteries or batteries that were put together using imported components.
Because li-on cells are used in more than just electric vehicles (EVs), including most smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras, and other electronic gadgets, these problems are only made worse by the possibility that there may not be enough of these materials on Earth.
Even if the issue of a lack of raw resources may be avoided in some way, there are still obstacles that must be addressed. For instance, the fact that EVs rely on imported batteries means that they were not created for the circumstances in India. Due to their economies of scale, Indian EV producers look to source from significant OEMs. These OEMs, however, make batteries whose ideal operating conditions might be as low as 25 degrees Celsius, making them quite unsuitable for Indian circumstances. This is because their products are aimed toward European markets.
Furthermore, the battery technology used in EVs is not standardized. Even though this is a general problem with EVs, it is crucial for batteries when they need to be recharged. The actual distance that people can go in their electric vehicles is a common worry among the general public. The ideal answer would be to set up a network of stations, similar to how ICEVs have petrol pumps, where customers can bring their electric vehicles to have their batteries refilled or changed. To be as useful as possible, this network of stations would need to work with all types of vehicles, just like fuel pumps. Each manufacturer has its own charging protocols, ports, and designs, which leads to a disjointed and inefficient system.
How to create a Strong Battery Ecosystem?
What can be done, then? Local manufacturers should be given top attention, which will necessitate the intensive study of battery designs. Maximizing the effectiveness and durability of li-on batteries, which will still be prevalent, will be the initial topic of research. This covers both research and development (R&D) on new kinds of anodes, cathodes, and electrolytes as well as battery management systems to ensure optimal battery health. One such promising technology is solid-state batteries, which use a solid electrolyte in place of the liquid or polymer gel electrolytes found in current li-on batteries. It will be easier to ensure that these batteries are made for usage in Indian conditions by conducting this R&D in India.
Alternative battery chemistries, such as those that employ zinc and sodium instead of lithium to replace li-on batteries, should also be the subject of further study. A solid initial step in this direction was the government’s Production Linked Incentive for Advanced Battery Chemistries, which committed INR 18,100 crore. Even if not all of these battery technologies will work for electric vehicles, they can be employed in other applications to free up lithium-ion batteries for use in EVs. For instance, by offering efficient energy storage, they may be suitable to address the issue of intermittent generation in renewable sources of electricity.
Technologies that employ raw materials like zinc and manganese, both of which India has an enormous supply of, should also be given priority. The creation of a separate department to source supplies for domestic battery production would also boost the EV industry given the global challenges with the supply of rare earth elements like lithium and cobalt.
With initiatives like FAME II, PLIs, and DLIs, the government has already played a crucial role in assisting the EV industry. The logical next step is to issue standards and guidelines for EVs, in the same manner, they do for other vehicle classes.
Politically and economically, this will be very challenging to do because the company that controls the intellectual property for a battery design will naturally want to maintain its competitive advantage. Compulsory licensure is one instrument that may be used to do this, but it is too blunt and aggressive and could ultimately have harmful results. FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) licensing is one example of a voluntary licensing framework that offers consumers and manufacturers clarity by setting criteria.
Energy is not the future anymore, its the present
In the coming decades, EVs will become the standard, and 2022 might go down in history as the year the Indian EV market began to take off. The ability to build a strong battery ecosystem will determine how quickly the business expands. For the Indian EV market, Aatmanirbhar Bharat is very much a possibility. India has a chance to dominate the world, particularly in the 2-wheeler market, however, Aatmanirbhar batteries are necessary before Aatmanirbhar electric vehicles can be produced.
The content of this article is taken from Times of India and the original author of this article is Shreyas Shibulal, Founder of Micelio Mobility