1.Electric vehicle push (The Financial Express)

2.Tropical thunderstorms (Down to Earth)

 

1.Electric vehicle push (The Financial Express)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the transformation of Indian auto mobiles towards electric vehicles. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Considering that India imports over 80% of its crude oil at a cost of over $80 billion, and air pollution is now blamed for over 1 million premature deaths per year, this transformation would be a giant step towards energy security and air quality improvements of unprecedented levels. The government had announced recently that India will switch completely to electric vehicles by 2030.
  • Both on account of health and reducing import dependence, it makes sense to go electric, though there is also a debate whether electricity generation is free from pollution because most of our energy demand is met by coal-fired power plants.

Assessment

  • The mandate for the policy has been given to NITI Aayog, and need to examine whether the 2030 deadline is viable not only for the auto industry but also the kind of impact it would have on our navratna exploration and oil marketing companies like ONGC, Indian Oil, HPCL and BPCL. All these companies have annual revenue generation of close to $15 billion and play a significant role in supporting the economy.
  • The question arises that how the Centre and states manage their budgets without drawing significantly, as they do now, on petrol and diesel by way of taxes. The oil minister noted India is the place where there is incremental demand. India aims to spend $300 billion in investments over 10 years to boost the production of crude oil, and to refine, transport and distribute the fuel. The $300 billion investment would be completed by 2027, so how does it match with a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles?
  • There is a mismatch in the roadmap between ministries, so it is up to the NITI Aayog to make sure the electrification policy takes care of a gradual shift to greener fuels and the viability of OMCs, which will have to remodel their businesses.
  • In India, 99.6% of petrol is consumed by the transport sector. In case of diesel, 70% is consumed by transport sector. Of the total diesel sale, the highest consumption is by cars, UVs and three-wheelers at 28.48%. On the operational side, the biggest challenge electric vehicles face is lack of infrastructure.
  • With about 3 million cars getting added every year, we would need a large network of battery charging stations, which would evolve into a business model about which nobody currently has an idea. China, the world’s largest auto market has proposed 12,000 new charging stations before 2020 to fulfil the demand of over 5 million plug-in cars. Consumers in India are value-conscious.
  • Most companies including Tesla, Ford, and GM are making huge investments in new technology. Countries are increasing their electric car market. With 29% market share, Norway has one of the most successful models for deploying electric cars.
  • In 2016, China was the largest electric car market it had world’s 40% electric cars. Globally, more than 2 million electric cars were sold in 2016, according to International Energy Agency (IEA).

Way ahead

  • India should look at a phased approach for the transition to smarter mobility. A long-term and collective vision of the Centre, states, OMCs, activists and public should be implemented rather than building a strong case on one minister’s statement here and there.

Question The world’s fifth-largest auto market is readying for a stupendous transformation i.e. moving completely towards electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030.Are Indian oil companies, exchequer ready for a shift to greener fuels? Critically analyse.

 

2.Tropical thunderstorms (Down to Earth)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue that amount of atmospheric energy available to thunderstorms will increase in response to climate change. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Thunderstorms are among nature’s most spectacular phenomena, producing lightning, heavy rainfall, and sometimes awe-inspiring cloud formations. But they also have a range of important impacts on humans and ecosystems. Thunderstorms bring dangerous lightning, one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in each year.
  • According to the new research, Thunderstorms are set to become more intense throughout the tropics and subtropics this century as a result of climate change.

Assessment

  • The thunderstorms caused various damages caused around the world, now it is important to ask whether they will grow in frequency and intensity as the planet warms. One of the main tools for answering such questions are global climate models mathematical descriptions of the Earth system that attempt to account for the important physical processes governing the climate.
  • But global climate models are not fine-scaled enough to simulate individual thunderstorms, which are typically only a few kilometres across. But the models can tell us about the ingredients that increase or decrease the power of thunderstorms.
  • Thunderstorms represent the dramatic release of energy stored in the atmosphere. One measure of this stored energy is called “convective available potential energy” (CAPE). The higher the CAPE, the more energy is available to power updrafts in clouds.
  • Fast updrafts move ice particles in the cold, upper regions of a thunderstorm rapidly upward and downward through the storm. This helps to separate negatively and positively charged particles in the cloud and eventually leads to lightning strikes.
  • To create thunderstorms that cause damaging wind or hail, often referred to as severe thunderstorms; a second factor is also required. This is called “vertical wind shear”, and it is a measure of the changes in wind speed and direction as you rise through the atmosphere.
  • Vertical wind shear helps to organise thunderstorms so that their updrafts and downdrafts become physically separated. This prevents the downdraft from cutting off the energy source of the thunderstorm, allowing the storm to persist for longer.
  • In every model, days with high values of CAPE grew more frequent, and CAPE values rose in response to global warming. This was the case for almost every region of the tropics and subtropics. These simulations predict that this century will bring a marked increase in the frequency of conditions that favour severe thunderstorms, unless greenhouse emissions can be significantly reduced.

Clausius-Clapeyron relation

  • The high levels of CAPE can develop in the tropics as a result of the turbulent mixing that occurs when clouds draw in air from their surroundings. This mixing prevents the atmosphere from dissipating the available energy too quickly. Instead, the energy builds up for longer and is released in less frequent but more intense storms.
  • As the climate warms, the amount of water vapour required for cloud formation increases. This is the result of a well-known thermodynamic relationship called the Clausius-Clapeyron relation. In a warmer climate this means the difference in the humidity between the clouds and their surroundings becomes larger. As a result, the mixing mechanism becomes more efficient in building up the available energy.

Way ahead

  • The models predict that the energy available for thunderstorms will increase as the Earth warms, thus it is clear that through our continued greenhouse gas emissions, we are increasing the fuel available to the strongest thunderstorms.

Question– Tropical thunderstorms are set to grow stronger as the world warms, analyse the climate change affect on rising storms.