Q & A
How has the Drop in Lithium, Cobalt, and Nickel Prices Affected the Battery Industry and EV Demand?
Enviro Annotations in a conversation Ankit Mittal, Co-Founder, Sheru, a Leading Storage Tech Start-Up on 29th March 2023
How has the recent drop in lithium, cobalt, and nickel prices affected the battery industry, particularly in relation to electric vehicles?
Most large OEMs have long-term contracts in place for the supply of these materials, and won’t see an immediate impact because of the fall in prices. High prices saw the industry drive efficiency gains to keep costs under control. We might see the EV industry take a different approach to products only if raw material prices continue being low for a while, which might not be the case.
Have you noticed any changes in demand for electric vehicles since the drop in prices of these materials?
For an EV, the battery is the single most expensive component and the prices of raw materials which go into these batteries impact prices directly. And prices of Lithium and other materials have declined sharply in recent months and might continue to do so. However, this fall has been after a massive rally that started in the mid-2022 and saw an increase of 550% over 1.5 years. This rally had squeezed the margins of automakers who could not fully pass on the rise in cost to consumers, as it would negatively impact sales. Hence, we don’t think the recent decline in prices of raw materials would be immediately reflected in the EV prices might see a drop only if raw materials costs stabilise around current levels for some time. And since there has not been a cost reduction in EV prices, demand has not been impacted by it at the moment.
In your opinion, how can the industry ensure that the environmental and social impacts of the mining and processing of these materials are minimised?
Concerns have been raised about the environmental and social impacts of mining and processing these materials. While a few of these are specific to raw materials for batteries, most concerns apply to the mining and processing industries in general – better mining practices, labour rights, ensuring that mining is not destructive to the environment, and so on. These require oversight from regulatory bodies in countries to ensure standards are set and adhered to. From the industry’s part, there is the energy used by companies in mining and processing – referred to as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. These can be brought to zero through the use of renewable energy, moving to e-mobility, and energy efficiency measures. And we think that there is progress being made in this aspect.
Do you have any plans to develop sustainable alternatives to these materials in your products or processes?
We are not an OEM. However, we work on providing solutions to the energy and e-mobility industries to make their products and processes greener. Our cloud storage platform, Eco, allows utilities and power producers to store excess renewable energy and helps them bring more green energy to the power grid, thus making it greener. ScaleBat provides OEMs with insights that allow them to develop more sustainable processes for battery manufacturing. It also helps users extract maximum value out of the asset, thus prolonging its lifetime.
Uma Shankar Pandey of Jakhni Water Conservation Fame, who is also awarded with “Water Warrior” award in the 2nd National Water Awards by Ministry of Jal Shakti, Govt. of India, speaks to Sanjaya K. Mishra (Published on 1st December 2021 issue)
How did you find the concept of water conservation in your village that led to Jakhni Model fame?
Nearly 2 decades back, there was a mass migration from the villages in Bundelkhand area. Paucity of water forced people to search habitations away from paternal villages. Indian media covered the stories of water starving Banda District in Bundelkhand. To address a solution to mass migration and attract from my fellow villagers back in own place, some like-minded people came forward to work on water conservation and make our village self-sufficient on water resource availability. And, that has made my village a role model in water conservation. Today, people who had earlier migrated, are back in their homes with good earnings and livelihood.
Would you like to share the thought behind your water conservation punchline, which was even highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
Yes, it’s “Khet Par Med, Med Par Ped”. It is also called Med Bandi. It is because, an individual can’t make a pond. It’s also tough to excavate a pond by an individual. But an individual can create a boundary on his/her cultivable or even barren land, which can store water for some time. And, in the process, groundwater is recharged. I also think that may be 100 or 1000 years ago, our ancestors also made such efforts to conserve water. And, I am grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he has highlighted our water conservation method in his Mann Ki Baat Programmes. The Prime Minister had also written to Village Sarpanches across the country on the subject of Med Bandi or Water Bunding to conserve rainwater.
What were the major challenges in the process?
Obviously, when you start a bigger movement, problems are also of equal scale. People objected with a view that once ample water is available in the village, Government could stop allocating grant in the name of drought to the village. However, in due course, we successfully overcome their doubts. Today, Uttar Pradesh has identified as many as 18000 villages to replicate Jakhni Model. NITI Aayog has recognized us as excellent village. On this basis, even the Ministry of Jal Shakti has formulated programmes to create every village as water sufficient village. Above all, Jakhni concept has re-establish the traditional and proven method of water conservation.
As India is significantly advancing on technology, is there any scope to infuse technology into Jakhni model for even better results?
I don’t think there is any such scope because this method of water conservation is based on simple, traditional process. It is a zero budget water conservation technique to become water sufficient at village, district, state and national level. And, let me inform you that we have never availed any financial grants in the process of making Jakhni, a water sufficient village.
Is there any further study or research work going on this success story?
Yes, Banda University of Agriculture and technology has initiated several studies. Many PhD students are doing research on Jakhni Model. Institutions under the Ministry of Jal Shakti are also executing several studies.
Would you like to say something on being awarded with “Water Warrior” Award by the Government of India?
In year 2000, on recommendation of the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Sh. Ram Prakash Gupta, Former Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Sh. Suraj Bhan awarded me with State Government award. After 20 years, I was awarded by the Government of India. For this, I am thankful to the former Secretary of Ministry of Jal Shakti, Sh. U. P. Singh, Union Minister Sh. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi, and all the officials of Ministry of Jal Shakti. It is an amazing feeling that the Prime Minister of India stands with our work. The national media highlighted our achievements. Now, as I have been awarded with a national award, I also feel that my responsibility has increased and I am continuing with more vigour.
Do you want to work only in your state or also out of your state?
There are many places in Odisha and Gujarat, where water is a scarce resource. Besides, my own state, which is Uttar Pradesh, I will try to contribute my experience in Odisha, Gujarat and wherever it could be of use.
Vinod Joshi, General Manager of Sankei Giken India Pvt. Ltd. and Former General Secretary of Rewari Industrial Association, speaks to Sanjaya K. Mishra on various concerns of Industries operating from Industrial Model Township, Bawal, Haryana's southernmost industrial city bordering Rajasthan
As you have already hold the position of General Secretary in the Rewari Industrial Association, and have been actively participating in various matters for the industrial development, do you think there are implications of Delhi NCR air pollution related regulations on the industries in your area?
Absolutely. Because, Rewari District falls in the NCR, industries operating in the Industrial Model Township, Bawal also face the heat. IMT Bawal is the southernmost industrial city of Haryana, and is bordering Rajasthan. It hubs a significant number of Multi-National Companies, and many are Japanese multinationals into the manufacturing of automotive products and medicines. And both these products are on high demand for the country’s progress in today’s world. As soon as, there is a seasonal regulation on air pollution in Delhi-NCR, industrial productions get a jerk. Industries have been asked to switch from High Speed Diesel (HSD), which is comparatively less polluting to an even less polluting PNG fuel. It involves infusion of huge capital expenditure. Since last two years, industries have been badly suffering from the COVID-19 crisis. None of the MNCs intend to pollute. The industries are also keen to comply with the regulations. But it should be in a phased manner with a long term planning.
Whether there has been any assessment regarding impacts of air pollution originating from IMT Bawal and travelling to NCR cities?
You are telling the opposite. If you look into the historical trend of wind, we are on the downward side. Moreover, we are so far that one can ever believe air pollution from Bawal could travel and cause impacts in Delhi and even NCR cities like Gurgaon, Faridabad and so on.
But was there any study carried out?
To my knowledge, no such study carried out.
Do you think such a study should be taken up and industries should talk to Government on the basis of its findings that we are not polluting Delhi NCR, hence, we should not be troubled?
Yes. It is a good idea to take up such a study. IMT Bawal has been developed and maintained by the Haryana State Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC). Therefore, the study should be initiated by the District Administration of Rewari and HSIIDC. Industrial Association should support the study in every respect. And based on the findings, which most likely will go in favour of the industries, the District Administration of Rewari should talk to the regulators – may be National Capital Region (NCR), the Commission for Air Quality and Management (CAQM), or Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) or National Green Tribunal (NGT) or even Supreme Court.
As you said, IMT Bawal has a significance, in terms of its geographical location on the border of Haryana State, is there any Online Continuous Air Quality Monitoring System installed here?
No. You have asked a very pertinent question. HSIIDC with Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) should create arrangements for the monitoring and measurement of air quality in IMT Bawal. They may discuss with the Industrial Association to bear the operational expenses. At least, it will give a clear picture on the scale of pollution the industries are creating in this area.
Now, switching from Air Pollution to Water Pollution, the Common Effluent Treatment Plant of HSIIDC has become operational in IMT Bawal. On this basis, the HSPCB has exempted some industrial units from the condition of STP installation. What is your stand on existing STPs being run by individual industrial units?
Actually, HSPCB has shown a dual behavior here. It says that an industry should treat the sewage first and then discharge into the HSIIDC sewer line. Now, industries bear a substantial costing towards treatment of sewage inside their premises. It has no sense to discharge the treated sewage. Moreover, there is a double costing incurred by the industries. So, HSPCB and HSIIDC must find a solution to ensure that the double costing is taken back. Industries, which treat the sewage and reuse the treated wastewater for various purposes inside their premises and do not discharge into the HSIIDC sewer should not be charged. Moreover, there should be adequate arrangement to accommodate sewage treatment during rainy seasons, for which the industries may be levied necessary fees. Having said so, I also mean that HSPCB should also continue insisting industries to attain Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD), which means treated effluent is taken back into process usages.
Coming to another environmental aspect, waste management, whether the industries are satisfied with the facilities provided by HSIIDC?
In fact, there is no facility offered by HSIIDC. They have been talking since long. But only talks going. Nothing happening on the ground. In the name of waste management, they solid wastes are being taken to a site on the side of Delhi – Jaipur Highway, where the waste is merely dumped. Many times, one can see that the wastes are burnt too, which is another reason of air pollution in the surrounding area.
For the Hazardous Wastes, Haryana Government has made arrangements through a company namely Gujarat Enviro-Protection and Infrastructure Limited (GEPIL), which is controlled by Haryana Environmental Management Society (HEMS). GEPIL has only been increasing the cost of hazardous waste disposal. It never passes on the benefits of co-processing cost savings to member industries. HEMS also never raise any matter in the favour of industries. Now, the HSPCB has introduced an online system to trach hazardous waste disposal. I expect that it could be instrumental to bring transparency in hazardous waste disposal. They should also look into the pricing mechanism.
What are the major environmental concerns of industries operating from IMT Bawal?
One of the major issues industries feel here is that the Officers from Haryana State Government and even Central Government work as auditors, not facilitators. When Government says “We are with you”, its team must come forward to understand problems, and also help identifying solutions. They may also be instrumental in implementing the solutions with a befitting plan. Issuing a mere Show Cause Notice won’t serve the purpose without a tracking of the final result. And why only Show Cause Notice? Stringent actions must be initiated against units which do not have positive approach towards regulatory compliance. By this, the true sense of Ease of Doing Business could also prevail.
Published on 24th November 2021 issue of Enviro Annotations
Dr. Savita Nagpal, MD, Vice President of the Association of Practising Pathologists, and Founder ‘Slim Homes’ an Environmentally Conscious Organisation talks to Sanjaya K. Mishra.
The name Slim Homes brings an immediate thought relating to minimalist group. Can you please enlighten our readers about Slim Homes?
On 1st September 2017, a large portion of the oldest landfill in Delhi, the Ghazipur landfill collapsed killing two people and washing away four vehicles. Somehow each one of us had a hand in that senseless tragedy. Thus was born the idea of “Slim Homes”, whereby, each individual could take credit for and have a hand in healing our environment. The recent fire at the Bandhwari landfill on 11th July 2021 is another case in point. The cornerstone of slim homes rests on (1) Residents are encouraged to de clutter their homes which are bulging with unwanted unused items. Hence the name “Slim Homes”. (2) Collection Drives are held whereby the Residents drop off their “Extras” at designated drop off locations. (3) Sales of the pre-owned items are held in Delhi and Gurgaon, where these items are sold at throwaway prices thus giving a new home to long forgotten belongings as well as immense joy to new owners. (4) Ideas of reaching out, reusing, recycling and re-inventing and re purposing, are propagated through Awareness Programs thus reducing our carbon footprints.
What are the Awareness programmes and Campaigns initiated by Slim Homes?
Slim Homes focusses on 2 main items as of now. Awareness programmes are held to sensitise people to the sorry state of the environment and to outline small and doable steps that can be taken within the constraints of their everyday life. People are made aware of “on site processing of waste” rather than sending it to centralized processing plants and thereby promoting decentralized processing of waste at a community level.
Bettering the environment by means of Waste Segregation and Composting; Diversion of Plastic waste away from landfills, towards road construction; Promoting the use of steel tiffins in place of disposable containers, by food delivery services; Making & Distribution of cloth bags to discourage use of Single Use Plastic; Promoting the use of Water Aerators in an attempt to save water.
With such busy and hectic lifestyles, do you expect people to get involved with Slim Homes?
The idea behind Slim Homes is to net in as many people as we can because we want that Slim Homes should provide a way of life, wherein we live in harmony with our Environment. The beauty is that just by de cluttering your own home, you become a part of Slim Homes.
When it comes to plastic waste management, what are the major challenges you find in society, and how do you address those?
Apathy, indifference, and a lack of awareness are the major challenges. We hold Awareness talks, mostly online now, and involve people in drives against the use of SUP (our cloth bags and Tiffins Projects)
Which SUPs must be targeted for immediate elimination in your view?
The most commonly used SUPs are the plastic bags. These should be eliminated at both the User as well as the Manufacturer level. Reusable Cloth bags are a cheap and easy alternative.
Secondly, the disposable containers used in food delivery outlets, should be replaced by steel tiffins/containers. Slim Homes is underway with this project.
Plastic bottles, cups, straws, cutlery and crockery, all, have easily available alternatives.
What’s your take on India’s data adequacy to work upon?
As far as numbers are concerned, they are out there for anyone to see. However, I feel we should address the problem of Waste Management, at source, which happens to be our home. For that we don’t have to delve into statistics, unless it is to frighten ourselves to take action.
Do you think people are aware of the fact that over 3 million plastic microbeads could be there in 1 bottle facial scrubs, which when washed down the drain and then potentially into the ocean and water bodies? What kind of reaction do you find from people who are aware of this?
No. Most people are unaware of these hidden microbeads and the inherent danger lurking in their toiletries.
Those that are aware have switched to using gram flour (besan) as a face scrub. Fortunately P&G is using crushed seeds etc. in place of microbeads.
Is awareness on Plastic Pollution Being Raised in Schools?
Slim Homes has conducted Awareness programs in the many Schools: Vasant Valley School, New Delhi – Sept 2019 & Feb 2020; Pallavanjali School, Gurgaon- January 2020; Sugam School – Feb 2021. A few other Schools in Delhi and Gurgaon have also been sensitised to Plastic waste by other organizations such as GFI (Garbage Free India). However, Covid has put a dampener on all these children oriented activities. Of late SDMC is on a massive drive to discourage the use of SUP and they are involving children as well.
Do you think that India is on the right track to achieve phasing out SUPs by 2022?
It has been a slow start but it is gathering momentum with the SDMC tackling it aggressively through continued Drives since around early July 2021.
At another level Slim Homes and Garbage Free India partnered in Jan 2020 and so far we have several Condominiums and Residential Complexes across Gurgaon, from where plastic waste is collected and diverted towards road construction. So yes, we are on our way, albeit slowly. So far we have diverted 29,458kg of plastic waste away from the landfill.
Being a Medical Practitioner, a Doctor, what inspired you to get into this?
Having been in Practice since about 35 years, I saw the spiralling increase in diseases such as Asthma, Diabetes, Cardiac, Neurological, & Endocrinological diseases as well as the rising incidence of Cancers and Infertility. What’s more, I saw more and more younger people being afflicted. Reading through the Literature as well as clinical experience helped us Doctors, to connect the dots, and we realised that toxins from contaminated air, water and soil had found their way into our bodies and were wreaking havoc with our internal milieu. Autopsies have revealed the presence of micro plastics in almost every human organ.
As we are taught in Medical School, prevention is better than cure, so I thought it was time I did something to arrest the devastation of our external and internal milieu. Since an individual effort is very miniscule, I founded Slim Homes, which provides a platform for all of us to restore our harmonious relationship with Nature.
Shri Surender from Beri District, Haryana, awarded with Best Fish Farmer award (Inland State Category) by the Govt of India, on the World Fisheries Day 2020 spoke to Sanjaya K. Mishra
Provoked by devastating 1999 Super Cyclone Retired Indian Army man has planted saplings on Odisha Coastline
50000 trees and plants must have survived, Krushna Chandra Biswal talks to Sanjaya K. Mishra.
What motivated you to start plantation in such a huge scale?
Actually, I was not here in the village (Gundalaba, in Astaranga block of Puri district in Odisha) during the 1999 Super Cyclone. When I visited after the incidence, I was taken back by the scale of devastation. Human life was pitiful, properties were damaged, animals were scanty, trees were uprooted, and the whole village was looking so barren. I thought to regain the lost greenery and glory.
So, when and how did you start?
After my 22 long years of service to the nation in Indian Army, I came back in 2004. Since, then I started planting trees on the seashore, which is government forest land. The beautiful Casuarina trees on the coastline are mostly cut in 10 years. It takes 5-7 years to grow them. But that also involves a lot challenges to protect from man and also from natural calamity. So, I chose Palm trees, which is local specie, stands tall, doesn’t die and also rarely cut. Another thorny shrub is also planted that helps to stop seashore sand blown by wind and enter to the village. Thus soil erosion is prevented, and also food and shelter for birds are created.
How many tree you have planted by now and what are their varieties?
I have never counted as such. It has been a long time. In these 15 years, there must be more than 50,000 trees of different species alive along the seashore, starting from Casuarina, Jamun, Mango and other fruit saplings. Now-a-days, youth is also participating. So, the plantation work is becoming faster and increasing.
What are the challenges you have faced?
When I ardently started planting trees, officials from the forest department had some doubts that I was occupying government land. As I had no malicious intentions, the matter was sorted out very soon.
Do you get any technical and financial support?
No. In fact, I have never asked for, nor I have thought of any such.
Would you accept support if any individual or organization willingly extend technical and financial support?
After some explanation, Yes, I would welcome anyone and everyone, who can guide me in selection of plant species and how to cover more area.
How do you feel as the Chief Minister of Odisha has acknowledged your work?
I am deeply touched and feel honoured by Hon’ble Chief Minister’s message. It is greatness that he acknowledged my work. This inspires me and also many people, especially the youth that supports my work.
China has attained remarkable success in Air Pollution: Dr. Ravi Kant Pathak
Dr. Ravikant Pathak, Associate Professor, and Atmospheric Scientist in the Department of Chemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, and Post Doc from Carnegie Mellon University in USA spoke to Sanjaya K. Mishra (Published in Enviro Annotations dated 22nd January 2020)
Mr. K. P. Singh, Director (Construction & Operations), M/s Global Realty Venture Limited, New Delhi talks to Sanjaya K. Mishra. Mr. Singh has enormous experience of over 3 decades in several iconic national and international construction projects.
You must be aware of two notifications the MoEF&CC introduced in November 2018, in which the construction projects are mostly made out of the purview of EIA Notification. What is your view as a domain expert?
It is unfortunate. On the one hand we are talking about decentralization of power, and when a government act on it, some people are too scared to bear that change. At the same time, as democracy prevails in our country, the government should also have consulted with experts before taking such important decisions. The basic objective should remain sustainable and progressive investments. I believe that the new government will address all concerns and objections and also take everyone into the same page.
Do you think that it was a concerted plan or a hurried action or an act of some other reason not shared with the public?
I would like to reiterate, in a democratic country like India, the Government should have consulted all stakeholders before taking a decision.
Do you think Indian Municipal Corporations and Panchayats can take up such responsibilities?
Decentralization of power and Capacity building is a continuous process of development. There were similar concerns when SEIAAs were formed. So far, there is no such legal complication found in the cases of projects cleared by the SEIAAs. Therefore, I am optimistic that an institution, once empowered, delivers. We have many experts available at different levels, who could participate in decision-making processes. Moreover, the power decentralization could have reduced post-project legal hassles with effective use of single-window clearance policies.
In the post-Katowice scenario, we are expecting much funds to flow into the green building sector. What are the challenges we have?
Green Building is a sustainable construction concept, which meets the needs of the present with good consideration of future demands and requirements. Sustainability in the construction industry is brought basically by good technical use of sustainable materials and energy etc. with simultaneous minimization in wastage and pollution. The number of green buildings in the country is rapidly growing. The biggest challenge for the green building sector is lack of awareness and demand among end users. Another challenge is the availability of viable cost-effective technologies. The concept of green building has got a substantial boost, since the last couple of years. Still, there are many stones remaining unturned. We have to imbibe technology and restructure the same to fit into our cases.
How to overcome those challenges?
By exploring cost-effective technologies. For example, the adoption of solar energy was a good measure. But, it was high on capital investment. As, lately, the CAPEX in solar energy utilization has come down, it has become popular. Also, there is a need for open communications between corporates, research institutions, government and society (activists and buyers). Projects should not take too much of a long time for completion. Infrastructure must be created by the government at the same time when it brings in new policy or amendments.
What are the parameters primarily considered in a green building project?
The term Green Building refers to a structure and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle. The Green Building project differs from conventional building projects by assigning equal priorities to economic, social, and environmental goals. It has now been universally accepted that it is critical to the design of environmentally responsible buildings for sustainable development. Research shows that Green Building improves tenants‘ satisfaction and health, enabling higher individual productivity in respective areas of expertise. As a result of the increased interest in Green Building concepts and practices, a number of organizations have developed standards, codes and rating systems conservation of water, energy, and building materials, and occupant comfort and health.
How is the construction industry responding to the Construction & Demolition Waste Rules?
The major source of Construction and Demolition waste is from the demolition of existing structures. Eliminating wastes, minimizing wastes and reusing imminent wastes need to be practiced. Recycling of demolition waste is not new. It was first carried out after the Second World War in Germany to tackle the problem of disposing of large amounts of demolition waste caused by the war and simultaneously generate raw material for reconstruction. Having said that, again state-of-art proven technologies should be adopted and the final disposal should be carried out as per the legal provisions.