State-run oil refiner Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. will set up a 1 Giga Watt (GW) plant to make batteries used for running electric vehicles (EVs) in partnership with an overseas start-up using a non-lithium ion raw material that is locally available, Chairman Sanjiv Singh said recently.
The move fits well with the government’s strategy to facilitate the adoption of EVs in the country’s energy basket, and cut the fuel import bill. It also supports a key element of the EVs industry — batteries and their recharge.
“If we look at EVs today, we know that it is more efficient, less complex, very advanced and more economical, if you are looking at the car alone. If you club it with batteries and electricity, from where electricity is coming, how you will replace batteries — because battery has a very limited life, how you recycle batteries, then probably, if you also look at the impact on environment, there is a puzzle which is yet to be solved,” Singh said.
“The lithium-ion battery we see today is not the only answer, or is the best answer. For a country like India, we don’t have a single grain of lithium. So, if you are looking at EVs in a very big way, we have to look for something which is indigenously available. We have already tied-up with one company. We are working on a solution which can be manufactured 100 per cent indigenously,” Singh said without elaborating.
According to Indian Oil’s director for Research and Development Dr SS V Ram Kumar, the planned battery plant will use “chemistries which are India-centric, whose raw material is easily available in this country, whose recycling technology is extremely mature, and whose recycling industry is well established in this country.”
He said that it will use “transition group of elements”.
“Those elements are known since ages, the natural resources of that particular element in this country is abundantly available, unlike in the case of lithium. For lithium, you have to be depending on imports, and that too from China, because all lithium reserves today are under the possession of China,” Ram Kumar said.
'New and profitable business'
Th battery plant will be set up through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by IOC and the overseas entity. “We may rope in another interested player, it could be anybody who brings in some expertise and synergies to this venture,” he said.
The location of the plant is yet to be decided, he said. “It will be located at a place where land is available at a reasonable price, and all the statutory clearances are available quickly,” he noted.
“It will be a manufacturing facility of battery to the scale, meaning minimum 1 GW. It’s a GW scale facility to be built in phases beginning with 25 MW or 50 MW and ramped up. It is be commensurate with the demand that is going to pick up in the country for e-vehicles and e-mobility. We have signed the agreement with the overseas start-up entity and is waiting for government clearance which is around the corner,” he added.
Sanjiv Singh said that Indian Oil is venturing into energy storage and the batteries business was a “new and profitable business avenue for the company”. “We have a strategic intent to scale-up presence in e-mobility by equipping customer touch points with turbo-charging and battery swapping facilities for EVs and plug-in hybrids,” he said.
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