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This post is a part of EV Next’s EV PerspectivesEV Nexta division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian e-mobility sector.

A prominent news item in the last few days has been Amazon India’s announcement to have 10,000 electric vehicles in its delivery fleet by 2025, announced by a person no less than Jeff Bezos himself, who also drove the first of such vehicles (video) to dramatic effect.

If a key goal for such electrification is reducing CO2 emissions, Amazon (or for that matter, its competitors such as Flipkart and Big Basket and others), should also explore something in addition: charging their batteries with renewable energy.

And here’s why: Converting petrol or diesel vehicles to electric vehicles will reduce, but not eliminate lifecycle CO2 emissions.

In a business as usual scenario, the EV batteries would be powered by the grid, which in turn gets its power mostly from coal power plants. As we had pointed out in an earlier blog post, EVs powered by our current portfolio of power sources could reduce CO2 emissions by about 50% compared to that for gasoline or diesel vehicles. Definitely significant, but lifecycle emissions from these could still be fairly substantial – a EU study pegged it at about 75 g CO2e/Km for cars (petrol cars in EU released about 160 g CO2e/Km, in India that number is around 120 g CO2e/Km).

Now, let’s look at what happens to lifecycle CO2 emissions if a car gets powered by renewable energy (say, solar power)? For electric cars powered by solar power, the lifecycle CO2 emissions come crashing down to 5 g CO2e/Km (against 75 g CO2e/km when charged with conventional power sources). So, that’s almost zero, which is by the way, the real goal.


While tailpipe emissions might be nil for electric vehicles, unless they get charged by renewable power sources, their life cycle carbon footprint will still be significant


 

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If Amazon is putting together such an ambitious plan to have 10,000 electric vehicles on roads, it should also perhaps consider charging them through solar power.

Well, they would require a lot of solar power to power 10,000 vehicles, for sure. Taking benchmark numbers, let’s say a car uses 20 kWh per day (for about 100 Kms) and a 3 wheeler uses about 6 kWh for the same distance per day, and assuming the Amazon fleet has about 7000 electric 3 wheelers and 3000 electric cars, the total energy to be pumped into the batteries everyday comes to about 100 MWh.

100 MWh of energy a day is a substantial amount, and will require about 25 MW of solar power plant capacity to generate this. For Amazon though, 25 MW should not be such a big problem in terms of investments required. What might be a challenge is the space required to put up this much capacity, about 100 acres.

The EV Next team had once been to Amazon’s logistics HQ in the outskirts of Bangalore, a pretty large building. Surely, rooftops at this and other Amazon locations could be used for solar power plants which can then power the EVs? These alone could accommodate a large portion of the 25 MW required. In addition, there could be additional spaces available for Amazon in each of the 20 cities it plans to operate these vehicles in. If swappable batteries become the norm, the logistics of charging EV batteries with solar at other distributed, offsite locations where Amazon owns solar power plants becomes even more feasible.

Finally, with today’s OPEX/RESCO models, Amazon need not even invest in these solar power plants – it can simply have someone else invest on these and just buy the power.


With business models that are already operational today, it is possible for fleet owners to go electric and go solar without having to invest any capital cost themselves.


 

It is well known within industry circles that EVs become green only when they are powered by green energy. Thus, when a behemoth Amazon is trying to go green, it makes sense to try going green the whole way, doesn’t it?

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evnext-logo-v-small

This post is a part of EV Next’s EV PerspectivesEV Nexta division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian e-mobility sector.

Know more on how EVNext can assist your business in your strategy for the e-mobility and electric vehicles sectors, from here. Know more.