India might need a rapid shift towards electric mobility solutions
On 1st August 2017, CEED organized a stakeholders’ dialogue on “Sustainable Urban Mobility” focusing on the current and future scope of electric rickshaws as an integral part of the public mobility solution. The dialogue witnessed participation of E-rickshaw and battery manufacturers along with research and advocacy groups, renewable energy companies, social entrepreneurs and microfinance institutions.
The central objective of the event was to highlight the challenges that the E-ricks face in terms of safety, sub-standardization, lack of essential infrastructure, regularization and policy measures that have restricted the E-rick market in reaching its apex; the market is not only estimated to generate livelihood but has the potential to solve the urban mobility issues in various cities in the country. The event also promoted a solar charging infrastructure for the added demand of energy by the electric vehicle fleet considering the ambitious target of the Government of India i.e. all vehicles to be electric by 2030.
The on-road vehicle fleet in India is over 25 million, making vehicular pollution as a major contributor to the ambient air pollution, which is evident from the state of air quality not only in the metro cities but also in tier 2 and 3 cities, like Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, etc. Among the various modes of electric mobility, electric rickshaw, popularly known as “e- rick”, has presented itself as a source of clean urban mobility and last mile connectivity solution in the public transport sphere. Being environment-friendly and emission-free vehicles (i.e. zero tailpipe emission); E-ricks can reduce the CO2 emission by over 1.6 lac tonnes annually, considering it travels 70 km a day and are over a lakh in number.
“Given the scale of pollution faced by India currently, and the dismaying projections of worsening climatic conditions in future, India might just need a rapid shift towards electric mobility solutions”, said Mr. Abhishek Pratap, Director-Programmes, CEED. He further added that “Despite various challenges associated with electric rickshaws, it has continued to be a popular urban mobility option. Hence, it is important to develop an essential vision for this sector, and recommend reforms to the various institutional and infrastructural challenges faced by these vehicles to consume their maximum potential.”
Set in this context, eminent national experts participated in the consultation with an agenda to ensure that e-rickshaws are safe with special reference to quality assurance, inspection of body parts’ load capacity, tires, brake equipment, and turning radius. These inspections should be carried out for new and existing vehicles. There is an imminent need of infrastructural and operational support to these vehicles by providing a well-distributed network of charging station accompanied by battery-swapping stations. These measures will require the cooperation of drivers, manufacturers, and government authorities to enforce such regulations. Introducing decentralized solar charging stations will not only make them completely emission-free but also enable the uptake of solar energy in the state. With distributed models in place, it gives plenty of opportunities to entrepreneurs to create new jobs.
The consultation received participation from delegates representing eminent institutes and organisations, including The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Centre for Policy Research (CPR), World Resources Institute, Hero Future Energies, Tata Power, Amaron Batteries, Goenka Motors, YC Electric Vehicles, M Jindal Group and Saera Electric Vehicles, to name a few.
While summing up the highlights of the round table, Mr. Dimpy Suneja, Programme Officer – Clean Air, CEED, elucidated that “India is uniquely positioned to take advantage of these developments due to a set of advantageous conditions and capabilities. Electrification of the transport sector is gaining popularity, and emphasis on low carbon development and clean air is rapidly becoming the central theme in infrastructure planning. Beyond consuming less energy, these vehicles enable greater use of low-carbon and renewable energy sources, considering its potential integration with grids. These technical advantages lead to the possibility of reducing petroleum use, air pollution, and carbon emissions on a massive level.”