Current Affairs 10 May 2023

  Last Update - 2023-05-10

The Energy Transition Advisory Committee formed by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in India has recommended banning diesel-powered four-wheelers by 2027 and replacing them with electric and gas-fueled vehicles in cities with over one million people and polluted towns to reduce emissions. The panel also recommends phasing out motorcycles, scooters, and three-wheelers with internal combustion engines by 2035.

To achieve Indias net-zero goal for 2070, the committee suggests producing 40% of the countrys electricity from renewables. The report recommends that no city buses that are not electric be added by 2030, and diesel buses for city transport not be added from 2024 onwards. The panel suggests partially shifting to electric and partially to ethanol-blended petrol, with almost a 50% share in each category.

To boost electric vehicle (EV) use in the country, the report calls for targeted extension of incentives under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles scheme (FAME). The panels also recommended new registrations of only electric-powered city delivery vehicles be allowed from 2024, with higher use of railways and gas-powered trucks for the movement of cargo.

The panel suggests building underground gas storage equivalent to two months demand and increasing the share of gas in Indias energy mix to 15% by 2030 from the current 6.2%. It also recommends the use of depleted oil and gas fields, salt caverns, and aquifers for building gas storage with the participation of foreign gas-producing companies.

Diesel currently accounts for about 40% of India’s petroleum products consumption, with 80% of that used in the transport sector. Petrol and diesel demand in India is expected to peak in 2040 and decline post that due to electrification of vehicles. The higher fuel economy of diesel engines over petrol powertrains is one factor for high preference for diesel engines, as they have higher compression ratios and more torque, making it the fuel of choice for heavy vehicles. However, diesel engines emit higher levels of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, contributing to air pollution, and higher levels of carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change. Diesel spills can also cause significant environmental damage.

Uncertainty about the practicality of the proposed ban vis-a-vis medium and heavy commercial vehicles makes implementing the diesel ban challenging. It may result in disruption in the transport of goods and public transportation services. High dependency on diesel for long-haul transportation and city bus services, as diesel sales account for around 87% in the transport sector, and trucks and buses contribute to approximately 68% of diesel fuel sales. Transitioning diesel trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG) poses limitations, as CNG usage is primarily suited for shorter distances and has lower tonnage carrying capacity. Automakers argue that diesel vehicles comply with existing emission norms, and significant investments have been made by car manufacturers to transition diesel fleets to BS-VI emission norms; a diesel ban might imply that all the time, money, and efforts were in vain.

Indias initiatives for a renewable energy-based transport sector include the FAME scheme, National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, customs duty exemption for lithium-ion cell batteries, national green hydrogen mission, and ethanol blending.

Current Affairs

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