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Electric vehicles the future of India, reveals study by IIT Kanpur and ICCT

Our Correspondent
Our Correspondent
Posted on 05 Dec 2021
09:49 AM
The study estimates vehicle and power sector emission, air quality, premature mortality, and avoided health damages in India.

The study estimates vehicle and power sector emission, air quality, premature mortality, and avoided health damages in India. shutterstock

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Summary
The study was carried out in collaboration with the International Council on Clean Transportation
The findings for 2030 and 2040 suggest that stricter emission control strategies are more effective at avoiding premature deaths

The widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) with robust power plant emission controls and power sector decarbonisation policies will yield net air quality and health benefits in every Indian state in 2040, according to a study carried out by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

The study estimates vehicle and power sector emission, air quality, premature mortality, and avoided health damages in India under an ambitious EV sales scenario between 2020 and 2040, with and without robust power sector emission control and decarbonisation strategies.

The findings for 2030 and 2040 suggest that stricter emission control strategies tend to be more effective at avoiding premature deaths than ambitious decarbonisation strategies apart from various benefits.

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Combining the two strategies maximises the benefits of EVs and brings improved air quality in every Indian state in 2040 compared to the baseline in 2040. This results in as many as 70,380 avoided premature deaths, equivalent to avoided health costs of up to 80.7 billion US dollars in 2040 alone.

“This study is a clear indication that EVs are the future and are here to stay, and the benefits of its usage can lead to a better quality of life by 2040. We at IIT are proud to be associated with a landmark research and would like to thank ICCT for this wonderful and path-breaking collaboration,” said IIT Kanpur director Abhay Karandikar.

Co-author of the study and a professor at the institute, Mukesh Sharma, is of the opinion that while EVs are the future, the transition phase and source of energy for charging those vehicles should be carefully monitored. “Our simulations on air quality show stringent emission controls at power plants and their decarbonisation in a phased manner is the way forward,” he added.

“Indisputably, there are benefits from decarbonising the electricity grid and improving power plant emission controls, and we see those policies are valuable irrespective of the level of vehicle electrification,” said ICCT India lead Anup Bandivadekar.

The idea that electrification without cleaning up the grid would backfire in terms of air quality is largely untrue, explained Arijit Sen, an associate researcher at IICT and lead author for the study. “These findings highlight the societal benefits of EVs, and they can be maximised not by delaying electrification, but when policies for power sector emission control and decarbonisation are implemented in parallel with vehicle electrification strategies,” he said.

The study is illustrative for policymakers in India and other regions who are considering promoting large-scale vehicle electrification while electricity grids remain largely powered by coal. Even assuming no new policies to decarbonise the power sector or tighten power plant emission controls, the analysis finds that ambitious EV sales lead to net air quality and health benefits in India, including 13,300 and 16,700 avoided premature deaths annually in 2030 and 2040, respectively.

The study takes the national and gridded emissions output data from various vehicle and power sector scenarios to generate national- and state-level air quality values using the WRF-Chem model, particularly focused on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration. In 2030 and 2040, the PM2.5 concentration will decrease for all scenarios, which indicates improved air quality nationally. At the state level, barring a slight worsening in air quality in Ladakh that is within model error tolerance, air quality will improve or stay steady for all states in all scenarios compared to the baseline of the same year.

Last updated on 05 Dec 2021
09:49 AM
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