A NUMBER of electric vehicles (EVs) are about to enter the local market. The thing to look for is the battery size and how far the car can go on full charge.
Most average-sized sedans have a battery that can hold a charge of about 50-80 kWh which will take you about 120-180km, depending on the size of the car. In conventional cars, it means about 15 litres of petrol. Almost all new electric vehicles will have lithium-ion batteries, which are getting cheaper by the month, although the batteries need to be charged and will add to the electricity bill.
But it will still be cheaper than gasoline. There can be new ‘park and charge’ businesses. Many people drive to work and their cars remain parked all day. These places will have parking spots covered by solar panels. Such parking-cum-charging spots will likely provide proper shuttle services to shopping malls and offices in the vicinity for the car-owners to move on to while having the car batteries charged.
Replacing conventional cars with EVs will definitely improve the air quality in cities, and will result in savings for the owners. But if the batteries are charged with electricity fenerated from fossil fuel, there will be little advantage in terms of fuel import, carbon emission reduction and actual impact on the domestic budget.
One needs three to five acres of land to generate one megawatt of power. Many public-sector universities and other institutions have been provided with huge tracts of land. These institutions can allocate land for one or two megawatt solar power generation. It is hard to understand why the country is not moving in this direction at a rational pace. What are we waiting for?
S. Arif Kazmi
- Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2021*