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Electric vehicles to aid India’s solar push

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-04-2017 Amrit Raj

New Delhi: The futures of solar power and electric vehicles (EV) in India are closely interlinked, given that EVs have batteries that can offer a storage solution to India’s clean energy push.

Solar power generated during day needs to be stored in batteries. Storage capability of EV batteries could help with grid balancing, complementing the centre’s push for solar power.

India does not have large-scale batteries yet, because solar power has not yet achieved the scale that necessitates storage.

Given India’s ambitious plan for an all-EV fleet powered by lithium-ion batteries by 2030, can it also support the government’s objective of generating 100 gigawatt of solar energy in future?

“The answer is, why not?” said Abdul Majeed, partner and national auto practice leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“But, you would need a clear road map so that both the sectors can be helpful to each other,” he pointed out.

“Costs of lithium-ion batteries have come down, but that is largely because of the efforts put in by the EV manufacturers,” said Majeed.

Nissan Motor Co.’s five-seater car Leaf S starts selling at $30,680 (around Rs20.24 lakh) in the US. Its battery alone is estimated to cost $6,500—the most expensive component in the car.

Yet, it was far below $18,000 Leaf launched in the US in 2010.

As part of its electric vehicles push, the centre is exploring measures ranging from leasing of EVs to transferring technology to firms for commercial production of lithium-ion batteries developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre for use in automobiles. It is also exploring a strategy that involves reducing the battery size to bring down EV prices.

“There is a lot in the works. We have not even scratched the surface. It also has far-ranging benefits ranging from energy security to reducing pollution,” said a senior government official.

Shifting to EVs will check pollution and fuel imports. India’s energy import bill is expected to rise from around $150 billion currently to $300 billion by 2030. The centre has set a target of 6 million EV sales by 2020.

Piyush Goyal, India’s power, mine, coal and renewable energy minister, has stated that battery storage efforts are being helped by the EV policy.

State-owned firms such as Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel), Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd (PGCIL) and NTPC Ltd are looking at new businesses catering to the space. While Bhel wants to make EVs, PGCIL is considering setting up charging stations. Meanwhile, Vedanta Resources Plc is looking at developing storage solutions.

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