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Commentaries

  • Executive Summary - State of Research and Development in Electric Vehicle Battery Technology

    Energy storage for electric vehicles (EVs) is a continually evolving set of technologies owing to the introduction of next-generation chemistries (such as lithium-sulfur batteries, solid-state batteries, inorganic liquid electrolytes, high-voltage cathodes, and silicon and lithium metal anodes) and the gradually declining use of older chemistries.

    In this paper, we explore battery designs, chemistries, and cell formats, and assess their potential in making the transition to EVs economically feasible in a resource-secure way for India. The report focuses on the current commercially available battery technologies as well as on battery research aimed at developing alternative technologies. The study explores the research and development (R&D) landscape for these batteries and investigates how the R&D community can work collaboratively and effectively with industry to address the challenges associated with the manufacture and uptake of battery technologies.

    You can download the executive summary of the report here. The full report is under production and will be available soon.

  • Tracking India’s Evolving E-Mobility Startup Landscape

    The electric mobility sector in India has a dynamic ecosystem of more than 550 start-ups that have raised over $850 million since 2012. Working on various strategic products and services along the EV value chain, these startups are carving out a niche for themselves while advancing the transition to cleaner mobility systems.

    This commentary provides an overview of the e-mobility startup landscape in India, highlighting the different sub-sectors in which startups are operating, the mix of traditional and climate funding opportunities, and offering key policy recommendations for governments to promote innovation and startup activity in electric mobility.

  • Basics of Hydrogen Technology

    Given the global consensus on climate and the potential of hydrogen to act as a clean energy vector, it is crucial to understand the hydrogen value chain in an integrative manner, from production to application. This paper discusses the technologies used in the pathways for production of hydrogen, the technology readiness of these pathways, the associated costs, the technologies available for storage and transportation of hydrogen, and its cross-sectoral end-use applications in the industries, mobility, and power sectors. The paper aims to collate information on the hydrogen value chain and build knowledge on the domestic hydrogen economy.

  • Accelerating Access To Wash And Healthy Spaces To Slum Communities In Urban India: Renewed Urgency Post COVID-19

    Urban India has taken great strides to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to its residents with national and state level programs and initiatives such as Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM), Mission Bhagirathi and others. Yet about a 160 million people, one-third of urban populations who live in urban slums, remain deprived of universal, equitable and safe facilities for WASH and healthy spaces. The COVID-19 crisis reinforced the high vulnerability of slum dwellers to communicable diseases as they are forced to manage with limited water supply, use shared facilities for bathing and sanitation and have no access to healthy spaces.

    Women and girls are especially vulnerable and their social and economic upliftment impeded, as lack of WASH and healthy spaces affects their livelihoods, education and health prospects. WRI India collaborated with Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) to converse with women in 16 urban poor settlements in 8 Indian cities. The community voices presented in this commentary offer a stark view of the absent, fragmented and intermittent WASH service delivery in urban poor communities.

    The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted and emphasized the citywide risks when governments and donors overlook the need to provide adequate and inclusive WASH services and healthy spaces for the urban poor. To accelerate WASH and healthy space access in slum communities, solutions must be knit into existing settlements in ways that cause minimum disruption. New interventions must add to and support ongoing improvements while continuing to be affordable. They must also be cognizant of the climate risks confronting these communities today and in the future.

  • Covid-19 Policy Note Series: Energy and Power

    The Covid-19 pandemic has torn through the Indian economy and society. By early June 2021, over 28 million people were infected, with about 340000 deaths. At the peak of the national lockdown in the first quarter of FY 2020-21, the national GDP had contracted by 23.9%, with high unemployment rates and significant declines in wages, especially in the informal sector.

    Covid-19 has strongly demonstrated the deep interlinkages between the economy, environment, and the society, and highlighted the importance of adopting development strategies that address these in an integrated manner. This series of WRI India expert notes outlines sector-specific recommendations through which the country can continue to develop its economy, while improving the environment and strengthening society.

    The third note focuses on energy and the power sector. During the pandemic, electricity demand fell, consumption shifted away from commercial buildings towards residential ones, and discom finances were further affected. The increased adoption of digital education and greater need for healthcare services also demonstrated the importance of reliable and affordable electricity for all. This note offers recommendations – on rural access, capacity planning, and building demand – through which the energy sector can be further developed to benefit the economy, environment, and all sections of society.

  • Covid-19 Policy Note Series: Cities and Urban Planning

    The Covid-19 pandemic has torn through the Indian economy and society. By the middle of April 2021, over 14 million people were infected, with about 175000 deaths. At the peak of the national lockdown in the first quarter of FY 2020-21, the national GDP had contracted by 23.9%, with high unemployment rates and significant declines in wages, especially in the informal sector.

    Covid-19 has strongly demonstrated the deep interlinkages between the economy, environment, and the society, and highlighted the importance of adopting development strategies that address these in an integrated manner. This series of WRI India expert notes outlines sector-specific recommendations through which the country can continue to develop its economy, while improving the environment and strengthening society.

    The second note focuses on urban development planning. Urban centres were particularly affected during the pandemic, due to the higher population densities, spatial considerations, and shortfalls in infrastructure and services. This note outlines ways in which urban planning can be reimagined to benefit the economy, environment, and all sections of society.

  • Covid-19 Policy Note Series: Urban Transport

    The Covid-19 pandemic has torn through the Indian economy and society. By the middle of April 2021, over 14 million people were infected, with about 175000 deaths. At the peak of the national lockdown in the first quarter of FY 2020-21, the national GDP had contracted by 23.9%, with high unemployment rates and significant declines in wages, especially in the informal sector.

    Covid-19 has strongly demonstrated the deep interlinkages between the economy, environment, and the society, and highlighted the importance of adopting development strategies that address these in an integrated manner. This series of WRI India expert notes outlines sector-specific recommendations through which the country can continue to develop its economy, while improving the environment and strengthening society.

    The first note focuses on the urban transport sector. Urban transport was particularly affected during the pandemic; several modes of public transport were halted or curtailed through various stages of lockdown, while domestic vehicle sales in the first quarter of FY 2020-21 were 75.5% lower than in the preceding year. As the public and private transport industries attempt to recover, this note outlines ways in which urban transport and its associated infrastructure can be reimagined to benefit the economy, environment, and all sections of society.

  • A Review of State Government Policies for Electric Mobility

    India has identified electric mobility as a promising pathway to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased energy security. While less than 1% of vehicles in India are electric, state governments have started expressing greater intent in promoting transport electrification. Many states have rolled out electric vehicle (EV) policies with two primary objectives: to incentivize EV uptake among the public and to promote industrial growth in the EV sector.

    This review of EV policies of 12 Indian states, with notified or draft policies in place, provides a comprehensive overview of policy incentives and mechanisms being deployed for promoting electric mobility. It shows that disparities exist in the incentives defined by different states, and some states have focused more on demand generation and others on industrial promotion. However, the range of policies provide a good starting point for meaningful state-level action on electric mobility.

    As state and city-level policy makers design, revise, refresh and implement tailored initiatives to support the EV ecosystem, this review is expected to be a useful resource for guidance.

    View Summary | View Complete Paper

  • Procurement of Electric Buses: Insights from Total Cost of Ownership

    A shift towards cleaner energy for public transport, particularly through e-buses, brings multi-dimensional benefits. The benefits multiply when combined with the greening of electricity generation in India.

    Deployment of e-bus must be underpinned by a robust understanding of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This is especially important for a price-sensitive market like India. The commentary on 'Procurement of Electric Buses: Insights from Total Cost of Ownership' does precisely this. TCO analysis attempts to identify the key cost components and major barriers to the procurement of e-buses. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis was done to identify high and low impact variables and their impact on TCO per km of buses.

    The commentary provides a deep understanding of possible areas of advancement and the associated pressure points in what is touted to be the future of Indian transportation. The commentary also provides a detailed assessment of innovative business models that will be handy for decision-makers, transport corporations, operators, financing partners, OEMs, and other allied stakeholders to arrive at appropriate terms that can diversify risks and reduce the resource burden of interested stakeholders.

  • Tracking India’s Industrial Evolution with Electric Mobility

    With the diffusion of electric vehicle technology in India, upcoming and established firms have begun launching new products, services and business models to increase their competitiveness. Product development and manufacturing practices are evolving, new players are making a foray into vehicle assembly and allied products, and organizations are being re-structured.

    WRI India has identified more than 100 strategic moves made in the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry between 2017 and 2020. Applying a multi-case research methodology, we further analyzed 31 of these strategic moves using the Four-Dimensional Framework of Competitive Advantage. Our goal was to observe how firms are choosing to become more competitive as they race to enter the global EV value chain.

    The paper highlights key observations and lists policy pathways that can guide decision makers in state and central governments, and stakeholders in the industry and academia, to chart the way ahead and identify the areas that need policy intervention. We posit that policymakers can play a key role in driving competition, and thereby reap the rewards of economic development – including technological leadership, active participation in the global value chain and developing human capital and resource efficiency.

    View Summary | View Complete Paper

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Through long form commentaries, WRI India researchers offer analysis, insights and views on the latest developments in the intersections of environment, development and well-being.


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