India’s plan to transition to alternate battery technologies for EV expansion
India had pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emission target by 2070 at the COP26 summit held Glasgow in late-2021. Since then the Govt. has been taking certain initiatives that would aid in overcoming certain glaring roadblocks which the country faces as it strives to progress towards its future goals. One such challenge is to limit the over-reliance on Li-ion batteries, which is the most critical component with regards to the EV industry & the subsequent import-dependence from other countries to acquire the necessary no. of units. Recently, Union minister Nitin Gadkari stressed on the need to formulate a policy that institutionalizes R&D of next-gen battery technology to counter the aforementioned challenge. The Govt. is said to approve nearly Rs. 18000 Crores for the sake of development of these alternate battery technologies.
According to a report by Bloomberg NEF, with the recent rise in the cost of raw material, the Li-ion battery prices experienced an increase. This cost increase coupled with the import-related costs results in the battery to contribute to about 50% of the total cost of EVs. Therefore, this substantiates the Government’s plan to transition to different battery technologies. The transition to alternate battery technologies has the potential to result in mass local production of varied battery technologies that could possibly reduce the battery prices. This could in-turn give a big-boost to the EV industry in India as the capital involved in the mass production of EVs would become similar to that of conventional IC vehicles.
According to the CEO of NITI-Aayog, Mr. Amitabh Kant, the organization is said to be in collaboration with 4 IITs for carrying out research in the Al-ion battery technology. With regards to this Al-ion battery technology, scrapping of old vehicles is being considered as a possible method of accessing the raw material (Al) at low-costs apart from the conventional processes. Furthermore, according to a report by Forbes, the Al-ion battery from the Australian organization GMG, is said to charge 60 times faster & store considerably large quantities of energy as compared to the Li-ion batteries. Apart from Al-ion, many agencies have also proposed the ideas & roadmap of some other battery technologies, such as Zn-ion, Na-ion, etc. With regards to Zn-ion batteries, the primary ingredients, namely, zinc & manganese are widely available in India, which ensures cost-effectiveness of this battery technology. Furthermore, the manufacturing of Zn-ion is water-based and is therefore more straightforward than the Li-ion technology, which is far more complicated due to its water-reactive nature. Similarly, from the developments made by startups such as Sentient Labs & Sodion Energy with regards to the Na-ion battery, it is projected that the Na-ion battery would roughly be about 30-40% cheaper than the Li-ion, and also much more safer as it can be procured without the involvement of toxic-substances to the environment. However, due to their lower energy density (~100 Wh/kg) compared to that of Li-ion (150-260 Wh/kg), the sodium-ion technology could possibly take a while to act as a replacement to Li-ion batteries.
From the data available from leading research organizations worldwide, such as Saturnose (USA), Salient Energy (Canada) & CATL (China), who are currently working on the development of Al-ion, Zn-ion & Na-ion batteries respectively, the projected costs along with other properties of each of these alternative battery technology in comparison to the Li-ion battery technology are summarized.
|Energy Density (Wh/kg)||150-260||60-70||80-130||
Based on the report by the organization Saturnose, the abundance of Al availability & its durability are discussed as the contributing factors for the projected low-cost of the Al-ion batteries. Furthermore, based on the reports of Canadian startup Salient Energy & CATL, the low cost of first-generation of Zn-ion and Na-ion batteries respectively, is associated to the fact that they can be manufactured using the existing production equipment. The cost of Na-ion batteries, in particular, is expected to possibly drop further to prices as low as $40/kWh upon mass production in the period of 2021-2030.
It is evident that these alternative battery technologies could well prove to be the solution to the issues related to the conventional Li-ion batteries that are currently being used in the EV industry. Hence, a properly formulated policy by the Indian Govt. to institutionalize R&D activities for the development of these technologies would bode well for the growth of the EV industry in India & consequently the country can progress towards realizing a carbon-neutral future.