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E-vehicles 'unlikely to reduce' pollution around India's power generation centres

By Our Representative

A top conservation and environment news features service has warned that a large scale shift to electric vehicles (EV) “may not be as environment friendly as it seems”, pointing towards “concerns” over lack of solid plan for “this shift and in absence of a plan for integrating renewables to power.”
Asserting that the Government of India’s decision to “shift to EVs could mean an adverse impact for the environment and communities living in and around India’s power generation centres primarily using fossil fuels”, a report published in “Mongabay”, brought out in several countries, including India, disputes Government of India’s unplanned decision to shift to electric vehicles.
Authored by Mayank Aggarwal, the report sys, “While there’s been a push for shifting to EVs in India, so far there are no mandatory targets and the impact of a large-scale shift to electric vehicles could fall on the environment and communities living in and around India’s power generation centres.”
It adds, the amidst the plan to shift to EVs it is forgotten that the source of “the power of the electric vehicles itself continues to be fossil fuels (electricity generated from fossil fuel-powered plants) rather than renewable power”, underlining, “It defeats the whole purpose of the shift.”
Quoting a study released recently by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, the report says, India could save on crude oil imports worth over Rs 1 trillion (Rs. 1 lakh crore) annually if EVs were to garner 30% share of India’s new vehicle sales by 2030. The study says, this increase in the penetration of EVs could also increase the combined market size of powertrain, battery and public chargers to over Rs 2 lakh crore.
However, the report cites Sunil Dahiya, an analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, an independent research organisation working on clean air and clean energy, to say that if integration of renewable energy is not pushed for powering electric vehicles, “It could become another problem for the environment and communities living in and around areas that generate coal-based power for India.”
The report underlines, “There is a concern that if the EVs are powered by electricity that is generated from power sources running on fossil fuels then the whole effort of reducing the environmental pollution load will be limited. It would merely mean that areas which are generating the power for charging those EVs will continue to suffer due to pollution from such plants, while areas, where the EVs are going to be adopted, would turn cleaner.”
“Also”, the report says, “The batteries that are powering most of the EVs right now require lithium – a mineral that is not widely available. So, with a surge in electric vehicles, the demand for minerals powering its batteries will increase as well which would mean an impact on the environment and communities in and around those mining reserves.”
It is estimated that the total number of registered vehicles in India is about 280 million (in 2017 as per data released in 2019) and every month, thousands of new vehicles are added on to Indian roads. India right now has over 500,000 EVs, including private cars, public transport buses, electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers.

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