By Anup Garg, Founder and Director, World of Circular Economy
Electric vehicles (EVs) are touted as a sustainable alternative to traditional gasoline-powered cars as they emit significantly lower levels of greenhouse gases while driving. However, the production and disposal of EVs can generate carbon emissions, just like any other manufactured product.
To truly decarbonise the life cycle of EVs, we need to focus on reducing carbon emissions across all phases – production, use and disposal. This is where the use of renewable energy sources and carbon accounting management practices plays a key role.
Production phase: Using renewable energy in manufacturing
The production of EVs can be powered using renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power. This reduces the carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing process and promotes the use of sustainable technologies. Companies such as Mahindra & Mahindra have already installed solar plants at their EV manufacturing facilities.
Use phase: Charging EVs with renewable energy
EVs can be charged using electricity generated from renewable sources such as solar or wind power. This reduces the carbon emissions associated with the use phase of EVs, making them more environmentally friendly. Tata Power, for instance, has installed several solar-powered EV charging stations across India.
Disposal phase: Recycling and repurposing EV batteries
At the end of their life, EV batteries can be recycled or repurposed to avoid disposal in landfills. Recycling of EV batteries can recover valuable materials and reduce the need for further mining, which can lower the carbon emissions associated with the disposal phase of EVs. The Indian government’s National E-Mobility Programme includes a focus on recycling EV batteries and invites various companies for collaboration.
Importance of carbon accounting management
Carbon accounting management can track the carbon emissions associated with the production, use and disposal of EVs. This data can help identify areas where emissions can be reduced and set targets for carbon reduction. Carbon accounting management can also enable carbon offsetting by investing in carbon reduction projects, which can help balance out the carbon emissions that cannot be eliminated.
India’s renewable energy potential
India has set ambitious targets to increase the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power by 2030, in order to reduce its carbon emissions and improve air quality. As of 2023, India’s renewable energy sources have a combined installed capacity of 174.53 GW, with solar at 63.3 GW, large hydro at 46.85 GW and wind at 41.9 GW. While there may be some challenges in scaling up renewable energy sources to meet the growing demand for EV production, there are several reports and studies that suggest that India has the potential to do so.
Role of carbon management companies
Consulting a carbon management company can help companies reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their climate goals through the use of sustainable technologies and carbon management strategies.
A carbon management company can help assess the carbon footprint of an EV programme, identify and invest in carbon offsetting projects, identify and implement renewable energy solutions, and develop a comprehensive carbon management strategy. For example, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has worked with several Indian cities to develop EV charging infrastructure powered by renewables.
To truly make the life cycle of EVs green and reduce their carbon footprint, we need to use renewable energy sources and implement carbon accounting management practices. By doing so, we can create a sustainable future for ourselves and for generations to come.