An upsurge in the number of electric vehicles (EVs) will be instrumental in increasing the share of solar and wind energy in the energy mix, bearing in mind renewable energy sources are only erratically available and are weather dependent, according to a new study.
The study titled "Accelerating electric mobility in India" by World Resources Institute (WRI) done for Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation added that the boost in EV industry would mean an increase in the availability of rechargeable batteries which could serve as electricity storage devices allowing steady use of power even when generation is intermittent.
It further added that grid operators can store renewable energy in batteries and supply it back to the grid in case of unstable power supply.
"As the cost of battery packs fall with the boost of EVs, using batteries for electricity storage will become a viable proposition for grid operators. In addition to this, as the generation of renewable energy goes up in India, more batteries will be needed to store this electricity," said the study.
The batteries that are integral to EVs enable electricity to be stored and used, when needed. This is extremely useful for enhancing the share of renewable energy which is not available at a steady rate but is dependent on weather conditions to a large extent.
Further, there is a potential secondary use of batteries, largely as static storage devices. With prolonged use in vehicles, batteries get replaced when they have 70 per cent to 80 per cent of their capacity consumed. These batteries can then be used in a stationary environment as energy storage systems for renewables.
"In the second life of a battery, they can last till they have about 40 per cent of their capacity. Using batteries judiciously in their second life is important for expanding the share of renewables in the energy mix of India," said the study.
The study noted that only about 2 per cent of India's vehicle fleet comprises high-end cars and nearly 70 per cent are motorized two-wheelers. Besides this, average trip lengths are small compared to the developed regions of the world.
The fact that the Indian consumer is very cost conscious, the high ambient temperatures and low Indian driving speeds as compared to other countries, are other unique features that have to be kept in mind while designing a transition strategy to e-mobility, the study said.
Electric vehicles have the potential for creating an additional off-peak demand that would help improve the efficiency of generating stations by improving their plant load factor (PLF). Also, any surplus capacity, that is available during off-peak hours, can be used for charging EVs at times when there is no alternative use.
“India has to innovate to overcome high costs of several EV subsystems and optimise the technologies for higher ambient temperatures. It has to optimise the design of these vehicles to give high performance even at the lower average speeds in our congested cities,” the study said.
Transitioning to electric mobility will also require innovative financing solutions for financing charging and swapping infrastructure. Vehicles are not getting sold because charging and swapping facilities are not available. Similarly, charging and swapping facilities are not coming up as there is not enough demand for them. Therefore, a few charging-swapping facilities are to be set up to help catalyse the demand for EVs.
The study said a network of charging and swapping stations across a city will also ensure scaling-up takes place conveniently. In setting up such facilities, it would be good to look at the best options for re-energising different types of vehicles.
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