Sustainability in the electric vehicle industry through renewable energy sources

Varun Goenka

The electric vehicle industry offers businesses the opportunity to use renewable energy. As organizations wish to be more environmentally conscious in their business operations, electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent and renewable energy is on the rise as it reduces carbon footprints and expands energy supplies.

Distributed renewable energy sources play a major role in finding sustainable and cost-effective solutions to our way of life. This is particularly useful when access to other energy sources is difficult, due to its wide availability and increased efficiency.

India has the third largest renewable energy generation in the world and its share of renewable energy capacity continues to grow.

As far as the electric vehicle industry is concerned, the use of renewable energy sources can make electric vehicle charging more environmentally friendly and help reduce the cost of electricity. Solar panels are the most easily accessible resource in terms of availability. To promote decentralized solar power plants, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has developed draft guidelines for developers. Several electric vehicle charging stations are already taking advantage of this by using solar panels to obtain their own energy.

Not only can you recharge your vehicles with renewable energy, but you can also trade it. Power trading allows charging stations to purchase power from a single source.

The Department of Energy has notified the 2022 Electricity Rules, which will allow small consumers to also buy open-access renewable energy. The ministry opened access to consumers of all scales and reduced the transaction limit from 1 MW to 100 kW.

An open-access, renewable hybrid model that bundles multiple types of power generation or uses more than one type of fuel is the best bet for charging/swapping stations. With a hybrid system, one can increase the amount of adaptable power generation as well as reliability in areas where access to electricity may be difficult.

It is important for the electric vehicle industry to ensure that electric vehicle operations are truly green. This can happen with the reuse and recycling of automotive batteries. Used electric car batteries, for example, are versatile and can also be used for energy storage in homes and industry, rather than in cars.

Lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles are large, heavy and contain precious metals like cobalt. However, if not carefully disassembled; they can explode and release hazardous materials.

India does not have a commercial battery recycling system. They are piled up and dumped in landfills without assessment of their environmental impact.

To address this issue, India has established guidelines on battery waste management that require manufacturers to provide recycling facilities for used batteries, thereby imposing extended producer responsibility. Some financial benefits are also provided by the government to stimulate recycling measures.

To make electric vehicles truly sustainable, it is important to look at both sustainable power generation for batteries and charging/exchange stations, as well as developing an efficient battery reuse system. This will ensure that the foundations of sustainability that underpin the electric vehicle ecosystem are enhanced in the years to come.

The author is Varun Goenka, CEO and Co-Founder, Chargeup.

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