Electric Vehicles: Making rural India self-sustainable

A lot of rural areas in India have the infrastructure in place for energy generation from solar panels. EVs, because they can store electricity in their batteries, can supply extra energy to the grid

By:May 22, 2021 3:20 PM

Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of automobile. India’s focus towards EVs includes all vehicles, i.e. two-, three- and four-wheelers. Of these, two-wheelers are taking the lead, and around 70% of EVs in India are two-wheelers. A lot of rural areas in India have the infrastructure in place for energy generation from solar panels, and they need a charging infrastructure to use the generated energy all day. If state policymakers pay attention on rural infrastructure, they can try to make such policies for rural consumers that increase the deployment of EVs and heavy machinery. Come to think of it, EVs, because they store electricity, can also supply extra energy to the grid.
Transforming rural infrastructure

For rural consumers, EVs can be the game-changer; during daytime these consumers can use solar pumps for irrigation as well as charging their EVs. In the current scenario, rural consumers depend upon diesel generators to operate machines for irrigation. Policymakers need to provide an incentive-based energy tariff structure for consumers and increase the interest to participate in grid operations and supply extra amount of energy to other consumers. It can reduce the burden on the grid, generate extra amount of energy for utilities, generate green energy, reduce the environmental impact due to burning of fossil fuels, make rural consumers self-sustainable, increase the deployment of EVs, and supply all-day electricity to rural consumers.

Forming a robust policy for EVs

State governments can define policies for EV enhancement. The objective of state governments is focused on absolute sales of EVs and a higher percentage of total vehicle sales. The goal might also be a general description of the desired market scale, or of environmental and climate impact. Once there is a clear goal, what would be needed will be to identify short- and long-term objectives and opportunities to achieve this goal. It is best to consider the development opportunities from different perspectives.

Through policy design, a state could prioritise electrifying certain vehicle groups over others. The EV group could be categorised by vehicle mode, segment, owners and purpose of use, among others, and state governments could focus their electrification efforts on those groups that contribute the most to air pollution. In other cases, a state could focus on vehicle groups that have fast population growth and strong market demand that reflect consumer preference for EVs. The identification of these opportunities will influence the direction of a state’s EV policy development. A state could also give precedence to certain segments over others.
In India, the total generation capacity is 374.2 GW and it still is not able to supply all-day electricity to all the consumers. In a typical village in India, electricity is supplied only 12-14 hours a day, and it has been seen that electricity is not supplied during peak hours.
Attention for rural energy demand

State governments, while preparing policies, need to pay attention about rural consumers’ energy demand. Some state governments do provide subsidy on solar pump installation to maintain the consumer demand for irrigation.

EV deployment is influenced by charging infrastructure. If EVs consume electricity from the grid for charging, it is an extra burden on the power grid. And any most of the electricity produced is generated by fossil fuels and this leads to adverse environmental impact. EV charging stations that use the solar photovoltaic system are needed by India.

Author: Pushpendra Singh

(The author is associate professor, JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur. )

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