AKHIL ARYAN is Co-Founder and CEO at ION Energy
A Greenpeace report early last year reported that a shocking 22 out of the world’s 30 most air-polluted cities are in India. Further, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) revealed that air pollution is now the third highest cause of death among all health risks in India, and that has brought down life expectancy in India by an alarming 2.6 years. All these statistics are more than adequate to send a shudder down the spines of anyone, who cares about sustaining life on this planet. And since India is the epicentre of pollution, there is a strong need to address this aspect.
A switch to cleaner, greener and renewable sources is the need of the hour as the global energy crisis gets worse with every passing minute, even as the climate change monster threatens to usurp most life on earth. Therefore, concerned lobbies around the world are advocating a major shift from fuel and gas to an exclusively electric vehicle (EV) technology. The EV technology is a step in the same direction, as discharges from traditional vehicles that run essentially on fossil fuels are one of the dominant causes of the energy and climate change fiasco.
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT POLICY
Since such a paradigmatic shift from traditional modes of technology to the new and unconventional ones cannot be brought about by individual entities alone; the onus is on governments around the world to drive this change. In fact, some have offered several benefits to advance public adoption of EVs, seeking to bring down air pollution and oil consumption figures. They are either offsetting the cost of purchase by an added grant, or lowering certain taxes, even enabling exemptions from a few.
Globally, only a few countries like Norway have successfully managed to herald an all-electric transition as 75 % of all vehicle sales in March 2020 were plug-in vehicles. This was driven by certain key economic factors and not just the environmental reasons alone, as the Norwegian government ensured EV prices were cheaper than the conventional internal combustible engine vehicles. This evidently led to a spike in demand for EVs in the country.
Even China has been a staunch proponent of an all-electric transition of transport and other associated technologies by coming up with a favourable and cost-effective policy, aimed at improving the EV ecosystem. India can look to gain much by moving forward in the same direction. The country’s finance ministry has provided a range of lucrative incentives in the economic budget aimed at promoting the use of EVs and driving the all-electric shift, including lowering income tax on loan for EVs, a decrease in import duty of certain key components, a reduction in the GST rate on EVs from 12 % to 5 % and from 18 % to 5 % on EV chargers.
The government think-tank NITI Aayog has aptly called for a nationwide all-electric three-wheeler and two-wheeler adoption by 2023 and 2025 respectively.
The future of transportation will be fundamentally electric and the recently-developed battery swapping technology not only decreases the waiting period for charging, but also reduces the cost of two and three-wheelers as the vehicle is now sold without the battery (the battery itself makes up for around 40 % of the total cost of EVs). The battery swapping technology essentially depends on the ability to anticipate, administer and amplify the life of the lithium-ion battery, which is the crux of the EV technology and the all-electric transition.
At the state level, the Tamil Nadu government has put forth a proposal of 100 % road tax exemption on EVs until 2022, a move that is sure to aid the switch from ICEs to EVs. The present overall cost of li-on batteries has witnessed a drastic reduction since 2010. EV production units have realised the need for next-generation technology and cutting-edge solutions to swiftly bring about the electric mobility transition.
ENERGY STORAGE & BATTERY TECH IMPROVISATION
The li-ion battery, which is the most crucial element of this global EV transition, unfortunately has a definite shelf life. Therefore, the need to optimise these for higher scalability and sustainability is most urgent. Thus, it becomes critical to assess and process various internal and external factors that impact the battery life. A battery management system (BMS) or the brain of the battery comes into play as it accurately estimates the vital stats of the battery. With the help of the accrued data, current capacity, usage patterns, and SoH (state of health) algorithms, the BMS predicts the battery’s lifespan and all-round functioning based on the past data.
This calls for advanced versions of the lithium-ion chemistry within the battery with a special focus attached to the second life of batteries, battery recycling and repurposing through accurate estimation and identification of battery life.
ROLE OF AI & DATA ANALYTICS
The battery data is most essential for EVs and energy storage space providers for fleet optimising, swift deployment, a higher uptime and an improved overall battery life, which accounts for more than 45 % cost of an EV.
Data sciences, AI and the internet of things (IoT) are revolutionising the EV sector and are responsible for laying the groundwork towards an all-electric transition in the near future. The battery data that is derived through the assemblage of these technologies helps gather valuable insights that help determine and improve battery life and performance. This not only decreases the overall user cost, but also decreases the overall planetary dependence on fossil fuels for its every-day energy needs.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are assisting EVs and ESS purveyors in identifying patterns and conditions while predicting battery life decay. These technologies provide prognostic readings and potential signs of warning, while also sending over-the-air updates to the stakeholders, which result in a remarkable reduction in overhead costs.
Strategic government policies, the growth of renewable energy sources, greater affordability, breakthroughs in electronics, energy storage and battery technology will play a leading role in piloting a swift transition from a fuel-based system to an exclusively all-electric ecosystem.