How feasible are Electric Vehicles in Nepal?
"Rakesh Pradhan, the senior marketing assistant of NIU electric scooter states, "We are trying to collaborate with engineering colleges so that they can study the batteries and the way to dispose them correctly. For now, most of the batteries are sent back"
Government of Nepal is giving incentives to import electric vehicles as an encouragement for the clean, green and healthy city environment. We are excited to see green vehicles hitting the road. Big companies like Hyundai, Kia, Mahindra have already started importing the electric cars as taxes for such vehicles have been waived in a large amount. But as usual, is this plan going to sustain in the long run?
When we see an electric vehicle, we picture batteries and a clean environment. The slow and steady eradication of fossil fuel-generated vehicles would not only save the non-renewable resources but also make the country pollution-free. But thinking ten years ahead from now, electric vehicles would also be a source of pollution as there is no proper policy with regard to disposal of the batteries.
The chemical combination varies from battery to battery but their prime constituents are mercury, nickel, cadmium, lead, electrolytes, and lithium. When they are disposed in trash, the batteries end up in landfills. As the battery casing corrodes, the chemicals reach the soil and make their way into the water supply. Also, the lithium-ion batteries act volatile when exposed. In accordance to Battery University, the lithium can cause landfill fires and burn underground for years. Such burns release toxic chemicals into the air and increases the potential for human exposure.
Rakesh Pradhan, the senior marketing assistant of NIU electric scooter states, "We are trying to collaborate with engineering colleges so that they can study the batteries and the way to dispose them correctly. For now, most of the batteries are sent back to China to the NIU University. Similarly, Diwakar Regmi, the showroom head of Hyundai Motors states that "The policies need to change for the betterment of environment of the country. The long term plans haven’t been brainstormed yet."
The other hurdle due to the lack of policy implementation is the cost of replacement of batteries. The Nepal Government has waived taxes for the electric vehicles but the cost of replacement of batteries after the warranty period is over is still high. The replacement of just the batteries of NIU electric scooters is around 1085$ (approx. Rs 1,20,000) and Hyundai Kona is around 14 lakhs which can be a cost of burden in the future.
We are still in the traditional era. Many people have adapted to the profession of repairing bikes and cars to earn their livelihood. They have trained themselves to repair those petrol and diesel induced vehicles. With the introduction to the electric vehicles, they are at the high risks of getting out of their jobs. Raju Shrestha, the owner of Shrestha Repair Centre, Kuleshwor, states, "The people like us are not at risk for about ten years from now. However, with the increase of electric vehicles, the government should consider training them in this technical field too."
Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is set to install ten charging stations for the instant recharging of the electric vehicles. The utility will be owned by the state and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Leakage Control of NEA is speeding up for the finalizing of the locations.
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