The way forward on accelerating clean-powered electric mobility in India

Rana Pujari, Program Officer-South Asia, The Climate Group
Reading time: 4 minutes
29 October 2019

The transport sector is one of the fastest-growing contributors to climate change, accounting for 23% of global energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the past decade alone, India has seen a tremendous rise in vehicle usage, resulting in a sharp increase in city level air pollution. A 2018 study by The Energy and Resources Institute of India (TERI) has shown vehicular emission is the cause of 28% of PM2.5 emissions in New Delhi (PM 2.5 are fine particulate matter and a potent source of air pollution in cities coming from vehicular emissions).

To tackle this challenge, India launched the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020, setting forth an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) by the year 2020. Part of this mission included the introduction of the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) scheme to encourage faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles, by offering upfront incentive on the purchase of EVs as well as establishing the necessary charging infrastructure.

Following suit, several states have either announced their EV policies or are in the process of drafting one. Businesses and the automobile industry have also responded positively, with some publicly announcing their clean mobility vision and commitments. Despite all these developments, there is still limited thinking on how to power the fleet of electric vehicles that are to come. A 2018 study has shown the overall power demand from electric vehicles in India is projected to be around 79.9 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2020 and 69.9 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2030 – which is equivalent to powering 9 billion small households daily. Given the heavy dependence on coal-based power generation in India, using clean energy to power EVs is a significant opportunity to ramp up renewable energy installations in the country, lower emissions and reduce carbon intensity of the grid.  

Over the past year, The Climate Group has convened state governments and businesses for accelerating adoption of clean powered electric mobility in India. For example, in October 2018 and September of this year, we held two webinar-based state-level dialogues, focusing on renewable energy powered electric mobility in India.  We have received favourable feedback and recognition from government representatives of around 14 states including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.

The most recent webinar saw participation from seven Indian states and around 20 private players including solution providers, consultants, experts and electric utilities. Throughout there was a growing acknowledgement on the need to decarbonize electric mobility in India and how this could contribute to lowering emissions much faster.   

Anup Bandivadekar, from The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), spoke about the need for aggressive actions in the form of grid decarbonisation. Furthermore, Maxson Lewis, Managing Director at Magenta Powera Mumbai based energy services provider – highlighted the challenges of EV adoption in the country. The company is addressing this through simple, yet transformational products such as solar based electric vehicle charging solution, mainly in the state of Maharashtra. They are doing this through ChargeGrid, their electric vehicle charging solutions provider.

A Delhi-based electric utility company outlined the impact EVs could have on the distributed network, potential business models on EV charging and how they hope to contribute to EV transition in the capital. States have recognized that EVs are a huge investment opportunity and that collaborations are a way to push this transition at the state level. For example, representatives from the state of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have indicated some initiatives their states are taking in order to drive EV adoption in the state. As per the EV policies, Karnataka plans 50% of all government vehicles to be EVs by 2020 whereas Andhra Pradesh to have one million electric vehicles across all vehicle segments in the state, including private and public transport vehicles, by 2024.

So, what next? The Climate Group is committed to building on this momentum and aligning this work with our network of states and corporations in India. The focus of future deliberations will be to further unpack the role of state policy and corporate ambition in accelerating deployment of clean energy powered electric mobility in the country. 

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