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Are Electric Vehicles Sustainable In The Long Run?

With the advent of the development of technology all over the world, as pollution is rapidly reaching the epitome, people have found the need of electric vehicles which can assist in reaching a win-win situation in reaching a sustainable living and development.

These electric vehicles were launched to call off carbon emission and emission of other toxic gases in the environment, but there are some disadvantages in manufacturing and using electric vehicles. The 17 SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) that are mentioned relate to inter-related global goals. The UN General Assembly in the year 2015 had set the sustainable development goals which are targeted to be achieved by 2030.

Switching To Electric Vehicles:

In overseas, countries like England, France, Norway, etc have committed towards shifting towards using of e-vehicles by 2025-2030. India, on the other hand has sought to achieve 40% of the plan within 2030. Linking of electric vehicles shall boost the country to reach the SDG and decarbonise the vehicle sector.

Under Target 7.2 of the SDG, electric vehicles that are powered by clean energy sources shall enhance the share of renewable energy in the energy mix. Under Target 3.9 of SDG, it shall assist in combating pollution and other health issues. Under goals 9.2 and 9.3, the country shall promote sustainable and inclusive industrialisation and shall enhance the integration of the SMEs into value chains and markets. SDG target 12.2 mentions clearly that, when precious metals are completely discharged, batteries for e-vehicles can be mined which shall promote resource conservation and sustainable development.

Target 12.5 of SDG is highly important because it deals with proper disposal, recycling and efficient end-of-life management of batteries of e-vehicles so that the residual parts do not cause any emission of toxic substances in the environment and cause a detonation in living. SDG targets 7.1 and 11.2 respectively mention about the access of modern, affordable, dependable energy shall be made to the humans and India should provide an economical, practical, sustainable access.

Challenges And Concerns:
While manufacturing electric vehicles, it has been found out that the batteries cost 50%-60% of the total manufacturing cost. Therefore, proper management of financial resources are required to attain Break Even Point (BEP) and then profits. Alongside, buy-back and proper recycling of lithium-ion batteries cost a hefty amount. Proper segregation of different elements and labelling are required so that proper disposal is attempted.

In actuality, environmental effects on electric vehicles are far from negligible either. Batteries, which contain metals like lithium, cobalt, lead, nickel, and copper, leave a sizable carbon footprint due to the extraction of raw materials, their manufacture and transport, the energy required to run them, and the management of waste when they are no longer useful.

Therefore, the crucial question is whether hybrid cars are less environmentally destructive overall than conventional cars over their whole life cycle. The studies appear to agree that making an electric or hybrid car has a higher environmental cost than producing a conventional one in the first phase, the extraction of raw materials.

This footprint is mostly caused by the energy and water consumption as well as the release of hazardous substances that occur during the mining of the rare earths and metals required for lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, the batteries' weight drives designers to use other, more energy-consuming materials in the automobile since they are lighter. This environmental cost has an impact on disposal and recycling as the last steps.

Is It Possible To Decarbonise The Electric Car?:

The arguments against electric cars will vanish in a perfect world where all electricity is produced from clean, renewable energy sources since this choice would prove to be very advantageous throughout the course of a car's lifetime. But this is not the case right now; in fact, the electric vehicle may create more issues as we move towards this decarbonised future.

Increased demand for electric vehicles may compel more natural gas to be burned to generate electricity, which would result in higher emissions as most energy still comes from fossil fuels. Recharging the car becomes a burden for consumers due to rising energy costs in many nations.

Traffic congestion for conventional vehicles and their time of use may increase due to parking and traffic priorities favouring electric cars, which will result in higher fuel consumption and emissions.

According to some analysts, this transition may cause emissions to exceed the carbon budget established to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, which aim to keep global warming to 1.5�C. In other words, the electric car won't be a solution until it's combined with a significant energy transition that has already been overdue.

Recycling Of Electric Vehicle Batteries:

Due to the increase in EV production, recycling and recovery techniques for EV batteries are becoming an issue. To recover the metals that make up EV batteries, a conventional technique involves chemistry. Based on temperature and duration, this approach combines hydrometallurgy and thermal pretreatment.

Several businesses use this combination to extract metals from EV batteries, however their application times and temperatures vary. According to research, the best conditions for getting the most environmentally friendly results and lowering recycling expenses are room temperature and 30 minutes. This discovery is crucial as the development of electric vehicles accelerates and more batteries become available that must be retrieved and repurposed.

While techniques like these have been effective in recycling batteries before the widespread use of EVs, they do not completely remove the valuable components that lithium-ion batteries contain. Although they are available, the standard technologies of hydrometallurgy and thermal pretreatment can only recover a portion of the components from batteries.

Governmental Policies In Combating Pollution:

The global Electric Vehicle (EV) market has grown significantly during the past ten years. With significant advancements in battery production capabilities, charging infrastructure, and new EV model designs, China has been the market leader in EVs.

China's enormous manufacturing capacity allows for the production of EVs at a lower pace. When it comes to the market penetration of electric vehicles, India, on the other hand, lags behind other regions. When it comes to electric vehicles, the country has a low acceptance rate. There is still a lot to be done in terms of model types, charging infrastructure, and financial incentives provided to EV producers.

The Indian government is consistently demonstrating its support for efforts to make India a world leader in the EV industry. The government has introduced a number of programmes and incentives to increase consumer demand for electric cars and to encourage automakers to invest in the R&D of electric cars and related infrastructure.

FAME II Scheme: To decrease the use of petrol and diesel vehicles, the Indian government announced the FAME India project on April 1, 2015. This programme was crucial to India's adoption of electric mobility. The FAME India Scheme seeks to encourage all vehicle kinds.

Following are the four focus areas of the Fame India Scheme:
  1. Demand for technology
  2. Pilot Projects
  3. Development in technology
  4. Charging infrastructure
With a budget of Rs 10,000 crore, the FAME II scheme was launched in April 2019 to support 500,000 e-two-wheelers, 5,000 e-three-wheelers, 7,000 e-buses, and 55,000 e-passenger vehicles. The goal was to encourage wider EV usage in India. In 2022, the plan was intended to be completed. But recently, the Government of India has decided to extend the FAME-II scheme till 31 March 2024 in the budget for FY2022-23.

PLI Scheme: PLI-ACC Scheme, a production-linked incentive for advanced chemistry cell battery storage, was introduced in June 2021 by the Department of Heavy Industry. The organization's objective is to persuade both domestic and foreign investors to make investments in India's Giga scale ACC manufacturing plants. The Union Government approved 13 measures, including the PLI-ACC Scheme, to help achieve the Prime Minister's vision of Self Reliant India).

Battery Swapping Policy: According to the finance minister, the administration plans to implement a battery swapping policy. This programme will harmonise the battery requirements for EVs used throughout India. As replacing a depleted battery with a fully charged one is a more practical choice than on-the-spot recharging, which can take hours, the legislation will aid in promoting EVs in time-sensitive service industries like delivery and inter-city transit.

Duty Reduction On Electric Vehicles: A proposal to reduce customs charges on nickel concentrates, nickel oxide, and ferronickel from 5% to 0%, 10%, and 2.5%, respectively, is included in the budget. An essential component of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) is nickel manganese cobalt (NMC).

Special E-Mobility Zone: The government intends to create designated electric vehicle mobility zones. In the areas the administration designates, only electric or equivalent cars will be allowed to operate. Many European nations and China have such rules in place.

Electric vehicles (EVs) and vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells, as well as the components for these vehicles, are the main focus of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) project. There are two separate incentive programmes within it: the Champion OEM Incentive Scheme and the Champion Component Incentive Scheme.

The Champion OEM Incentive is a programme with a relation to sales value that is accessible to all battery electric vehicle (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell car sectors. The financial incentive provided by this component ranges from 13 to 18%. Additionally covered is any other cutting-edge automotive technology vehicle listed by the Ministry of Heavy Industries.

Since the introduction of the first electric car in 1837 up until the present, there have been enormous changes, particularly in terms of technology but also in terms of people's attitudes towards the environmental effects of cars and other mobility solutions. Although the Indian market for electric vehicles is currently a lucrative target for businesses and start-ups, a number of issues still need to be resolved before EVs can be widely adopted.

For instance, producing electric automobiles domestically is a high-cost hurdle.Similar to that, making batteries is essentially an expensive endeavour. To overcome these obstacles, the Indian government must focus its efforts on encouraging technology disruption.In order to hasten the adoption of EVs, the government would also need to offer improved tax advantages and subsidies to prospective car owners and suppliers.

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