Electric Vehicles as a Sustainable Solution to Air Pollution in Delhi

By: Reji Kumar Pillai , Akshay Ahuja

Automobile emissions may not be the single most source of air pollution in Delhi, but they are a significant contributor to the deteriorating air quality. The transport sector accounts for about 20 per cent of global energy use but reports indicate that automobiles alone contribute 25-30 per cent of all global emissions.

The world over the key philosophy gaining momentum for transition to a low carbon economy is to electrify all human activities including transportation and agriculture.

Delhi is one of the most rapidly growing automobile markets in India,with the number of vehicles having zoomed from 3 million in 2007 to 8.8 million in 2015 (http://goo.gl/EmdrNDhttp://goo.gl/Bz6oDw). Herein, electric vehicles (EVs) represent one of the most promising pathways to increase energy security, reduce carbon emissions, and improve air quality.

Electrification of Transportation for Clean Air

Electrification of transport is gaining popularity, with congested cities opting for metro railways, electric trams, and BRT corridors. Successful deployment of EVs and its supporting infrastructure is being seen as the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Realizing the importance of EVs in reducing emissions, the Ministry of Heavy Industries (MoHI), Government of India (GoI) launched National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) in 2013 , aiming to bring 6-7 million EVs on Indian roads by 2022. However, the EV rollout has not taken off as envisaged mainly due to non-allocation of funds in the last two years towards this mission.

MoHI has conducted several brainstorming sessions with stakeholders in order to promote EVs in India. It is assumed that in the first phase public transport – buses, three wheelers, taxis, will be given priority. NEMMP is expected to start in a big way once the Government of India allocates the approved amount of Rs 795 cr (120 million USD) in the next budget. Considering that, the customer-adoption of EVs will follow the availability of adequate charging infrastructure, NEMMP funds can be used to setting up infrastructure technology and pilot projects.

graph 11Source: http://paryavaranmitra.in/Carpooling%20project%20report%20for%20CEE.pdf , http://cea.nic.in/reports/others/thermal/tpece/cdm_co2/user_guide_ver10.pdf

Generation of 1 kWh of energy by coal power plant emits 1 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2). In the table above, it is assumed that one litre of petrol/diesel has an average car run of 10 km in cities; and an electric car will run 10 km on 1kWh of electricity. Even if the electricity used for charging the EV is generated through fossil fuel, CO2 emission will be less than half that from petrol or diesel cars. However, given the fact that the electricity used for charging EVs is produced by power plants that are struggling with air pollution, it would be worthwhile to have EVs charged through renewable sources of energy. If EVs are charged through renewable power, then emissions from EVs would be nil.

Global EV Outlook

The number of EVs sold each year is growing rapidly, rising from 45,000 EVs sold in 2011 to more than 300,000 sold in 2014. In 2014, EVs represented more than 1 per cent of all new car sales in four countries: Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the US (http://www.cleanenergyministerial.org/Portals/2/pdfs/EVI-GlobalEVOutlook2015-v14-landscape.pdf).

graph 10
Fig. 1: Global sale of Electic Vehicles (EVs), Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), Battery Electric Vehicle (BVE), Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

EVs in India

EVs in India are still in their infancy and need some major policy intervention by the government to kick-start their rollout to meet NEMMP goals. There are a few manufacturers for electric two wheelers and three wheelers. But when it comes to four wheelers, it is only Mahindra Reva who have a prototype commercial model.As yet, there are no established electric bus manufacturers.

Several business houses and entrepreneurs are planning to start manufacturing facilities for electric vehicles and associated infrastructure and components in the country, but remain unsure of the market potential. It is only when the government takes some bold decisions to make EVs mandatory in cities, can one expect the industry to confidently invest in production facilities. For instance, although Tata Motors manufactures EVs in Europe, it has not launched any models in India.

Several international car makers presently operating in India such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, GM, Audi, Volkswagen, and Mitsubishi, manufacture EVs. They can easily launch EVs in India provided a market is created for the same through policy intervention.

India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF), under Ministry of Power, Government of India, has already conducted several brainstorming sessions with various stakeholders to formulate recommendations on appropriate EV charging infrastructure and policies for India. These recommendations were submitted to the MoHI in August 2015 and are under active consideration.

Following are the recommendations submitted by ISGF to MoHI:

  • All public transport buses shall be converted to electric buses, starting with those plying on the most congested routes where traffic moves slow, resulting in higher emissions and higher wastage of fuel.
  • From April 2016, only electric three-wheelers shall be registered in Delhi. All existing non-electric three wheelers shall be phased out by 2020.
  • From 2017, only electric motorycles, electric scooters and electric mopeds shall be sold and registered in Delhi/NCR. Existing non-electric scooters, mopeds and motorcycles shall be phased out by 2025.
  • All new taxis and buses (all categories) shall be electric and existing buses and taxis shall be phased out by 2020
  • From 2016, 10 per cent of new cars registered in Delhi shall be EV. This is to be increased to 100 per cent by 2020; all existing non-electric vehicles should be phased out by 2025
  • Direct current fast charging (DCFC) and Level-2 charging stations may be installed at: bus stands, railway and metro stations, BRT stops, malls, IT parks, commercial centres, colleges/school campuses, hospitals, courts, petrol pumps, government buildings, parking lots, residential colonies
  • All EVs (2 wheelers, 3 wheelers, cars and buses) shall have lithium ion batteries which can be charged with fast chargers (DCFCs) or Level-2 charging stations, since lead acid batteries can lead to severe environmental degradation during local recycling.
  • Three wheelers and four wheelers may be allowed to charge only from standard EV charging units equipped with EVSEs.
  • Separate electricity tariff shall be introduced for EVs. Two wheelers may be allowed to charge from ordinary plug points, with no special tariffs being introduced. For EV charging stations, time of use pricing should be introduced to help balance the load on the electric grid and, facilitate optimal use of the electricity distribution network. Concessional EV charging tariff at night hours could promote EV rollout as well as help improve the plant load factor of power stations.
  • For the next 5 years, all large organisations (both public and private) should allot half of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the creation of EV charging facilities at strategic locations within the city.
  • All fuel pumps shall be mandated to install fast charging stations (DCFCs).
  • Battery swapping model may be introduced for three wheelers and such charging and battery swapping stations may be setup near metro stations.
  • All new commercial and multi-storied residential buildings may be mandated to install EV charging units in their parking areas.
  • Concessional taxes may be offered to EVs and their spares. Several states are already offering lower registration charges and road taxes. This could be studied and appropriate tax concessions offered to promote EVs on fast track.
  • Other incentives such as free (or concessional) parking, reserved parking lots, free (or concessional) toll fee, may be considered.
  • Certain exclusive localities ( such as Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Pragati Maidan, Sports Stadiums and the like) should allow only EVs from 2017
  • Registration number of all EVs should have a clearly recognizable numbering series – such as : DL-EV- 1234567. This will make recognition of EVs easier for differential treatment and incentives.
  • In busy districts of the city, a congestion fee may be levied on non-EV during peak hours.
  • Duty free import of EVs may be allowed for a limited time for buses, taxis and government vehicles.
  • To enable different ownership and operation models and interoperability of the charging infrastructure with different EV manufacturers and electric grid infrastructure, they could be supported by open standards such as Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), IEC/ISO 15118 etc.
  • All cars owned (or leased) by central government, state governments and PSUs in Delhi shall be replaced with EVs in 2016.

In the interim, hybrid vehicles may also be promoted as emissions from hybrid cars like Toyota Prius are 10 per cent as compared to that from petrol cars. With hybrids, roll outs can be faster as they do not require charging stations. However, EVs can be the only lasting and sustainable solution for controlling vehicular pollution in cities.

The Government needs to make immediate policy level interventions for this to happen. Funds ought to be allotted in the 2016-17 budget for NEMMP to setup a charging infrastructure in Delhi. Accelerated action on development and deployment of EVs will not only improve energy security, lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improve air-quality, but also enables new economic development opportunities and technological innovation in the transport and electricity sectors.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *