Electric cars will not be India’s answer to rampant air pollution, nor will it be solved by other battery-powered means of transportation. Researchers from North Carolina State University have concluded that even with a large increase in the usage of electric modes of transportation by 2050, more electric drive vehicles (EDV) will do next to nothing to alleviate emissions pollution from India. The Eastern nation will continue to battle environmentally harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
Joseph DeCarolis, assistant professor at North Carolina State, said, “We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions.” Researchers used forecasting models with advanced algorithms to create 108 scenarios to determine the impact electric-powered transportation would have on the country’s environment by 2050. They found that even if 42 percent of vehicles on the road in India were electrically-driven, there would be a miniscule reduction in air pollution.
The main problem is the increase in EDVs itself. If a larger amount of electric cars are on the road then more electricity will have to be created to meet this demand. Even though electricity itself is clean energy, creating it is not. Most of India’s energy production comes from fossil fuels, and an overwhelming percentage comes from coal – nearly 70 percent. Many more coal and gas power plants will have to be built to create the power needed to fuel electric cars. The emissions from coal power are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which India is currently battling. Since more air pollution will be created, electric cars won’t be India’s answer to the pollution problem.
India’s government has taken many steps to promote the use of electric means of transportation. However, there still seems to be a lack of public awareness. As well, the cost of a brand new electric car in India is out of reach from many people. Several companies have reported a drop in consumer demand since EDVs have not taken off in the country. Even though the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has provided people with a financial stimulus to increase consumer demand, several manufacturers of EDVs are leaving the Indian market. The shutting down of dealerships has prompted Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s biggest producers of alternative energy vehicles, to stop the launching of new vehicles.
The benefits of EDVs are eliminated by higher emissions from power plants. This is due to the fact that even though India has one of the largest populations in the world, vehicles make up a small share of total emissions. DeCarolis explained that it is more efficient political policy to set reduction goals for emissions rather than promoting automotive technologies. India is planning to increase its energy output to 76 GW in their five-year plan. However, current policy states that the major producer of power will be coal.
India’s Nation Electric Mobility Mission Plan seeks to put around seven million EDVs on its country’s roads by 2020. As previously mentioned, government subsidies and awareness programs will drive this program’s campaign. To reduce its carbon footprint, India is looking to companies that are investing in electrically-driven motorbikes and other types of cycles that will also alleviate mass congestion in its major cities like Mumbai and Delhi. Nonetheless, major strides by industries outside the automotive industry are going to have to take place in order to alleviate India’s major air pollution problem. Simply building more power plants to produce more electrical energy will not suffice as India’s answer to pollution is not electric cars.
By: Alex Lemieux