The government will adopt an integrated approach and come out with a policy to make India self-reliant in the area of advanced battery technologies to power electric vehicles and other applications, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. Pitching for an integrated approach for developing indigenous fuel cells in the field of electric vehicles, he said India today stands at the cusp of becoming the world leader in this field as well as automobile manufacturing. He made the remarks after chairing a high-powered meeting focussed on research and development in the area of alternative fuel. The meeting was held last night. Central government’s Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Highways Secretary Giridhar Aramane and senior representatives from DRDO, ISRO, CSIR and IITs besides Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways VK Singh participated in the meeting.
“So far work is happening in silos in the area of alternative fuel. We will now work in an integrated and concerted manner bringing together the best technologies. We will also focus on economic viability…We need a policy in this regard and for it we have decided to take an integrated approach,” Gadkari told PTI. He said scientists, academia and industry can together harness green hydrogen-based energy through water, for it being a cost effective and easily available mode in the country. He indicated towards the lowering costs of solar power in India, which can help energise other modes of fuels. “Vast scope is there in the area of Lithium-ion battery too despite countries like China dominating in the sector. About 81 per cent of Lithium-ion battery components are available locally and India stands a very good chance for value addition at lower costs. “Our mining entities could look for acquiring component assets globally and grab the opportunity as China has occupied 51 per cent but still 49 per cent scope is there,” Gadkari said. Stressing the need for advanced and concerted planning the minister said this is one area where there is good scope for becoming the world leader as the automobile sector which has a turnover of Rs 4.5 lakh crore is set to take it to Rs 10 lakh crore in future. The resultant employment generation will be huge and vehicle scrapping policy under which initially one crore vehicles will go for scrapping will result in availability of cheaper aluminium, copper, rubber, steel and other products which will reduce the price of the components.
After going through the presentations from different organisations on different technologies including Lithium-ion, metal-ion, Sodium Sulphur, Hydrogen, Iron Sulphur, Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Cell System, ZincGel, etc, Gadkari said, economic viability is the basis of any successful technology. The minister suggested taking ahead the suggestions put forth in the meeting by integrating industry experience in the field. He assured the participants of his complete commitment in adopting best technologies. He also urged various stakeholders including NITI Aayog, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO), CSIR, Ministries of Science and Technology, Heavy Industries, Commerce, Road Transport and Highways, IITs and private institutions to join hands in this regard. Private sector has also worked in this regard. DRDO in its presentation showed how technology transfer has resulted in manufacturing of 400 batteries of 120 MW by some institutes and added that mass production could reduce its prices. NITI Ayog said it has collaborated with four IITs including Guwahati and Delhi for research in aluminium-ion battery. Its CEO Amitabh Kant stressed that India should concentrate on lithium-ion alternative batteries and mining sector companies should explore opportunities aborad for acquiring assets in this regard. Gadkari said next generation batteries will not only minimise vehicular pollution in India but make India a global supplier of EVs and added that two-wheeler makers like Bajaj, Hero Honda and TVS are already exporting 50 per cent of their production. He said he would be launching a tractor on alternative fuel on Friday. Alternative fuel promotion will result in economic growth and would bolster India’s development, Gadkari said.