Sri Lanka authorities work on several fronts preparing the country for electrifying its mobility. Several government agencies including the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Transport are working towards making this mission a reality.
Atop all a State Ministerial Sub Committee has been appointed to facilitate EV transition under the Presidential Task Force for a Green Economy to provide solutions to climate change.
A Cabinet Memorandum has been approved for this purpose. The government is also focusing on the use of electric-powered, low-floor buses for passenger transport. However, it’s important to know what problems we try addressing by applying an EV transition policy and the outcome of such a policy.
Key Concerns Need Addressing
- Environmental Pollution / Meeting with global goals
- Fossil fuel import cost, energy transition for both cost and quality.
- Congestion and the cost of congestion
- Mitigating health issues, prevention of NCDs
But it is unfortunate that the government is yet to understand the need for a National Policy covering short to long-term objectives and strategies. Prior to highlighting the key areas of an EV transition policy let’s look at the preliminaries. You may deep-dive via the links given if you need further analysis of the topics.
National Mobility Policy
Although the energy transition and the EV transformation need to be part of a National Transport Policy this has not been addressed. Several agencies work on different agendas as the country has seen over decades. What’s happening even now is the studies and projects on different sub-sectors, sans a long-term policy framework and a strategy.
The need for a National Transport Policy has been highlighted many times. We went to the extent of proposing an outline of such, indicating the sectors that need covering.
Here are several prior posts on why a National Transport policy and assessing the need of the hour.
As a part of a National Policy, there needs to be a serious consideration on Micromobility as well. Even President Gotabhaya Rajapakshe has outlined the need in his pre-campaign manifestoes.
Vehicle Needs Analysis
The average daily usage of a motor car in Sri Lanka has been reduced to a mere 22 km. Furthermore, it has been said over 80% of local cars life has been spent parked according to the studies. Ideally, each new EV that arrives at our shores needs to replace an ICE. We know that we buy cars as a status symbol or for emergencies for several reasons, with no real need for ownership.
A comprehensive need analysis to take place to avoid EVs becoming another national issue. The following link touches on the issue of the national vehicle fleet and the need.
The Economic Issue
Not only the environmental catastrophe, the 1000 Billion rupees annual fuel expenditure could be addressed comprehensively by deploying a strategy and an action plan on EV transition.
Let’s look at the To-Do list, with the backing and in support of all above and more!
EV Transition ~ Here is the To-Do List
The Transition needs to happen in stages without disturbing the mobility needs. However, the country should not forget the needs are fast-changing, fuelled by Post Covid Mobility need changes that have changed the mobility landscape globally.
We decided to develop a To-Do list, to avoid ambiguity and simplify a complex matter. The things are not necessarily in the order of priority but to some extent. The least-cost strategies have been prioritized too, in consideration of the country’s financial status.
1. BUST BATTERY FEAR:
Looking into the grievances of the existing EV owners of around 4,000 is a must. Many are pioneers and opinion leaders, although many changed hands. It is paramount to build confidence in the prospects for new EVs to invest better.
New battery prices are still at the level of 330$ per kWh (pack level) which makes a small 24 kWh pack for about 8,000 USD (LKR 2.5M approx with freight). Although the OEM kWh prices are at the 200USD level, it will take few more years to get these impacted to the replacement battery market.
Facilitating used battery importation is a must to mitigate costs as it’s happening the world over. Used EV batteries are getting transported from Japan to the developed world including the USA, NZ, UK, Europe, etc. Although the country uses the Basel Convention as a barrier, there’s NO prohibition for cross-border transportation of Li-Ion under the Basel Convention. Refer: https://mobility.lk/2020/07/29/lithium-ion-usage-recycling/
The aged but still popular talk of making EV batteries in Sri Lanka has delayed the cause Government needs to know that this is beyond practical upon the complexity and the EOS (Economies of Scale). At the same time, Government needs to have an importation procedure to manage this battery importation process. This is required especially to know the whereabouts and lifecycle of the batteries which are getting used the world over for commercial energy storage purposes after the use in an EV for traction purposes.
We have submitted a comprehensive proposal to the Ministry of Environment to mitigate this issue and a guideline to implement a licensing procedure to facilitate and protect current EV owners.
2. PAVE WAY FOR NEW EV:
Facilitating imports of new EVs / making duty-free for all categories (regardless of the motor or battery capacity). If not, only cheap, sub-standard EVs will reach our shores.
Furthermore, the biggest issue now is limiting EV imports only to within one year of age. Globally one-year-old EVs are even pricier than similar new ICE. And the EV batteries last a decade, with fair degradation. Considering these Government should allow EV imports up to 3 years of age, similar to ICE.
3. DEVELOP PUBLIC CHARGING:
Government encouragement and facilitating the charging infrastructure are required, but no government goes into this business. Provide financial assistance to Charging network developers/owners. Need for more cars too to be the infrastructure profitable and sustainable.
Corporate and government offices need to provide metered L2 charging for employees. DCFC will not be a big concern in the upcoming EVs where its batteries are having over 40 kWh of energy which is the need of a full week for the majority.
4. FAVORABLE TARIFF:
Provide special Energy Tariff to all public charger owners (energy resellers) of both L2 & L1. In all countries charging centers’ cost is either equal of cheaper than the home charging. But in Sri Lanka it’s the opposite where the EV user having to pay up to double the home charging unit rate.
This is not sustainable, where the running cost of an EV will be equal to ice.
5. RENEWABLE PUSH:
Prioritizing the President’s mandate of 80% renewable by 2030 (although lowered to 70% now) as EV owners needed to be with RE, ideally. Strategizing and developing plans to generate enough renewable energy for the proposed growth of EVs is a must.
6. STATE TO BUY EV:
Stop purchasing fuel vehicles for the Government and its agencies. The government buying only electric vehicles, as specified even in several budget speeches and statements.
7. LEASING FEASIBILITY:
Leasing companies actively discourage funding EVs. It is mandatory to enforce regulations to ensure that EV s do get priority with a higher Loan Value ratio. Also at least the same lower interest rates than ICE.
8. FAVORABLE INSURANCE:
Now it has been observed some insurance companies charge higher rates on EVs. Regulations need to enforce the rates should not be higher than equally valued ICE.
9. SOLAR CHARGING:
Incentivize hybrid inverters to charge EV s and/or storage batteries directly by rooftop solar, as required.
10. SCRAP AGED ICE:
Need to establish a vehicle scrap policy paving way for new EVs. Technically an ICE vehicle to go out of the road to facilitate an EV in a saturated national fleet. https://mobility.lk/2020/02/15/scrap-program/
11. RENEW EMISSION TEST:
To update the current outdated emission standards and have a carbon/emission tax on all vehicles.
12. PHASE-OUT HYBRIDS:
Include Hybrid vehicles in the emission tests, which is emitting more toxic gases than straight ICE, in some cases. Especially when not maintained properly and/or aging.
13. IMPLEMENT NEW TAXES:
Implementation of a Congestion Tax, and a Carbon Tax. Make EV s exempted.
14. FACILITATE MICROMOBILITY:
Follow the links above. This can be facilitated in QuickTime, with the least capital cost. Yet this will be saving billions on daily basis on many fronts including fuel, congestion, health, and environmental costs.
15. CUT CAR OWNERSHIPS:
Ridesharing and Hire systems to allow / mandate only Electric Vehicles.
16. PRIORITIZE ELECTRIC TRANSPORT:
Recognize as a policy to procure only Electric buses for public transport (Electric vehicles are not only cars). Route priority and route assignments too are needed in making this happen to mitigate the higher capital cost. Railway electrification too a must although highly capital intensive and long paybacks in the context of the country.
There are Not to Do’s as well
The increase in the overall fleet size will not help curb congestion. Furthermore, some current trends like E Tuk Tuks, etc will further worsen the current indisciplined roads, although no emissions. Although there is a business provision in these ventures, the final outcome will be somewhat equalling to the action of allowing private buses decades ago and the introduction of Bajaj as taxis.
The Government should focus on global availability and the local range needs of an average car. It is known the average daily range is limited to 25 Kms a day and the battery capabilities of 40 kWh is delivering over 250 kM’s of charge, which is ideal for us. Technologies like solar charging cars, 500 km range cars, etc can be there once available but we need to focus on the local affordability and what’s fulfilling our needs, meeting with both quality and cost concerns.
Trust the committee will have a timeline in submitting its report and the action plan!