As India prioritises electric vehicles, it will have to look at alternatives to reduce dependence on traditional lithium-ion batteries.
For electricity supply to become fully free of fossil fuels, generation from renewables will need to be stored.
As renewables gain market share, many experts see a serious problem with the availability of lithium as well as its price.
Sodium-ion battery technology is now emerging as a potentially viable alternative for large-scale application.
India is accelerating its energy transition away from fossil fuels. Its ambition has been rising. From the initial target of a decade back of putting up 20 GW of solar power by 2022, it now has the goal of having 170 GW of renewable electricity capacity by the same year, 2022. More recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India would have the objective of putting up 450 GW of renewable energy. India is also promoting the use of electric vehicles with a range of policy instruments. As the share of renewables in electricity generation increases rapidly and as the share of electric vehicles rises, both electricity and transport would simultaneously be reducing their carbon intensity. But for electricity supply to become fully free of fossil fuels, generation from renewables will need to be stored. Electric vehicles run on batteries which store electricity.
A real breakthrough for a net carbon-neutral economy needs success in cost-effective energy storage. Battery storage is one of the most promising options being pursued. At present, lithium-ion batteries are being used for all computers and smartphones. They are being used in electric vehicles and the performance of electric cars is getting better. The prices of these batteries have been coming down and so have the prices of electric cars as batteries are what make electric cars more expensive than the comparable petrol/diesel car. Electric cars may well be on the cusp of succeeding in the market though at present their market share globally is just over 2 per cent. But when they begin to gain market share substantially, many experts see a serious problem with the availability of lithium as well as its price. Therefore, there has been considerable research and technology development work going on across the world to find an alternative which has no such potential constraint.