(Environment & Ecology)General Studies Paper 3 (Science & Technology)
Question:- 64. Considering the impediments for India in procuring Lithium for electric vehicles, highlight the need for pushing towards Hydrogen fuel cells. Also, discuss the issues associated with Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles usage. Answer in 250 words.
Sep 13, 2022
Answer:-

INTRODUCTION

India’s first indigenously-developed hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) technology bus was unveiled late August, with the fuel cell — which uses hydrogen and air to generate electricity onboard to power the bus — being developed jointly by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Pune-based automotive software company KPIT Ltd. This is being seen as a milestone of sorts, especially given the government’s strong electric vehicle (EV) policy push that comes amid a struggle to make inroads into the global lithium (Li) value chain, which has prompted a rethink on the need to diversify the country’s dependency on Li-ion batteries in the overall EV mix.

       

 THE PROBLEM:

1. Demand for Li-ion batteries from India is projected to grow at CAGR of over 30 per cent by volume up to 2030, translating into over 50,000 tonnes of lithium requirement for the country to manufacture only EV batteries.

2.With over 90 per cent of global Li production concentrated in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, alongside Australia and China, and other key inputs such as cobalt and nickel mined in the Congo and Indonesia, India would need to be almost entirely dependent on imports from a small pool of countries to cater to its demand. While other options to Li-ion are being explored, viability remains a key factor. A renewed focus on hydrogen as a mobility option comes against this backdrop.

 3. Traditionally a slow mover in EV technologies, India has made an uncharacteristically early push in the race to tap the energy potential of the most abundant element in the universe: hydrogen.

4.This includes a National Hydrogen Mission and a roadmap for using hydrogen as an energy source. And while proposed end-use sectors include steel and chemicals, the major industry that hydrogen has the potential of transforming is transportation — which contributes a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and where hydrogen is being viewed as a direct replacement of fossil fuels, with specific advantages over traditional EVs.

 


HURDLES

1. Globally, there were under 25,000 HFC vehicles on the road at the end of 2020; by comparison, the number of electric cars was 8 million.

2. A big hurdle to the adoption of HFC vehicles has been a lack of fuelling station infrastructure — even though fuel cell cars refuel in a similar way to conventional cars, they cannot use the same station.

3. There were fewer than 500 operational hydrogen stations in the world in 2021, mostly in Europe, followed by Japan, South Korea, and some in North America.

4. Safety is flagged as a concern.

 


CONCLUSION

Scaling up the technology and achieving critical mass remains the big challenge. More vehicles on the road and more supporting infrastructure can reduce costs. India’s proposed mission is seen as a step in that direction.