In May, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced that the revitalized Moskvich plant will produce electric vehicles in the future. KamAZ, Kaliningrad Avtotor and Lipetsk Motorinvest announced their plans to start domestic production of electric cars. Time will tell who will be first, but for now the questions remain open: Are electric vehicles so environmentally friendly and is it necessary to switch to them? In an interview with RIA Novosti correspondent Pavel Zyuzin, RENERA CEO, about why the electric car is still a “green” mode of transportation, what awaits the Russian market for electric vehicles, and how to dispose of the batteries used in them. LLC (part of Rostom Fuel Company ” TVEL”) Alexander Kamashev and CEO of “It.Charge” Dmitry Matvievsky.
– A year ago, experts from the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago published the results of a study showing that electric vehicle production is 32% more harmful to the environment than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Is it a myth that an electric car is environmentally friendly?
Dmitry Matvievsky: Actually, everything is very simple. The production of some ICE vehicles leaves a smaller carbon footprint than the production of an electric vehicle and may be considered less “dirty” by some calculations. However, this advantage is offset by electric transportation after an average of 60,000 kilometers. If an electric car travels 60,000 km, its operation becomes more efficient than ICE cars, both economically and environmentally. This efficiency is obvious: we breathe the exhaust of cars with internal combustion engines in the city, internal combustion engines require the use of various chemicals, liquids and other substances both in production and during operation, but the main thing is that they directly harm a person. and concentrated instead. The transition to electric vehicles at least shifts the negative impact outside the city to the production cycle level. And this is the absolute advantage of electric vehicles.
Lithium is needed to make batteries for electric vehicles. There is no industrial production of lithium in Russia yet, but Rosatom and Norilsk Nickel have announced plans to mine it in the Murmansk region. “RENERA” also announced its participation in the project. Will Russia’s own lithium production be economically justified?
Alexander Kamashev: Due to the active development of the electric transportation industry, lithium has become a very demanded metal, and now its value is increasing day by day. Therefore, the previously unsuitable project for the extraction and processing of lithium now becomes economically viable. The Kolmozerskoye deposit was not chosen by chance – the largest deposit of lithium ore in Russia contains about 20% of local reserves.
– Is there an estimated timeline for starting the project?
WHITE: In terms of the term, production at the Kolmozerskoye site could start as early as 2026.
– Electric cars of the Kaliningrad plant “Avtotor” will run on “RENERA” batteries. You agreed on this in December last year. Anyone else working with you?
WHITE: Indeed, in March this year, an agreement was signed between Rosatom, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Avtotor on the development of production and the introduction of electric transport in the Kaliningrad region, and in 2023 we plan to see an Avtotor electric vehicle. The car with our energy tank. We also work with foreign automobile manufacturers who are ready to transfer technology and localize electric vehicle production in our country.
As developers and suppliers of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, electric buses, trolleybuses, special equipment, we closely monitor the development of the market situation and are ready to cooperate with all representatives of the automobile industry. Our company negotiates with manufacturers of all kinds of electric vehicles.
Cooperation documents have already been signed with some companies, while others are still working. For example, the Renera lithium-ion battery is installed in the Aurus range of vehicles. This summer, Belarusian manufacturer BKM Holding’s St. In May of this year, we started the deliveries of lithium-ion batteries for the trolleybuses that will depart for St. Petersburg. Some Russian automakers are already testing new models in our lithium-ion batteries. We hope to complete these in 2023 and start mass production.
In order to supply batteries to manufacturers, at the end of this year we will establish an assembly plant in Moscow, where operations will be carried out for the engineering and production of modules, packages and energy storage systems with a capacity of 150 MW / h. per year.
– What should be done with batteries containing toxic components after their useful life in an electric vehicle has expired? How will such batteries be disposed of in Russia?
– DM: The issue of battery recycling will only be relevant in 15 years, take for example the Far East, where electric vehicles are most common in Russia. In a ten-year-old Nissan Leaf, no one will replace the battery anymore. Battery degradation during this time is approximately 15%. However, even a battery with a 20% deterioration after operation does not lose its value and can serve for another 15-20 years in the form of a stationary energy storage device, for example, for the needs of households or businesses. After all, almost everyone now has a portable battery for charging the phone, and therefore, the battery of an electric car can be used as a powerful stationary power bank for several more years. Therefore, owners of electric vehicles will definitely not have to throw away its battery, it can be easily sold and sold for good money.
– Still, what to do with batteries in Russia when the issue of disposal becomes relevant?
WHITE: By 2025, Rosatom plans to create the first production and technical complex in Russia for the processing of lithium-ion batteries in the Nizhny Novgorod region. In parallel with the opening of the facility, we plan to switch to working completely on the “full life cycle” principle and we are already preparing for this, we are working on options together with our partners. This means that all stages, from the extraction of raw materials to the manufacture of lithium-ion cells, the assembly, operation, recycling and disposal of batteries, will be the sole responsibility of the government agency Rosatom. Lastly, St. Petersburg Economic Forum, we signed an agreement aimed at creating tools for the recycling and reuse of used batteries. We understand how our batteries are designed, how they are used, and we believe more than double the battery life is possible. And that’s not five years, but the whole of ten years. It is economical and environmentally friendly. End-of-life traction batteries will be used in fixed energy storage systems, uninterruptible power supplies and fast charging stations for electric vehicles.
DM: In fact, in Russia there are already companies that are happy to buy batteries for recycling, as well as electric vehicles – even with great pleasure, because this is a huge amount at once. But batteries from household appliances, objects with low mobility and others are also perfectly processed. Here it is important to know that any battery is a dense source of useful chemical elements of material value. And there are more and more such processing companies.
– According to Avtostat, in 2021 the Russians bought 2,254 new electric vehicles, three times that of 2020. Should we expect an increase in electric vehicle purchases in Russia in 2022?
WHITE: Now, of course, sales of electric vehicles have fallen, because there are no electric vehicles on the market. Only a few left. European options are gone, they were quite expensive. There are Chinese variants, for example JAC is powered by Tesla. With the emergence of a domestic line of electric vehicles in Russia, I’m sure we can accurately speak of much higher sales figures than ever before. In particular, the automaker Motorinvest had planned to bring its electric vehicles to the Russian market by the end of 2022. Avtotor announced that it will start producing electric vehicles under its own brand next year. Also next is KamAZ. It is possible to have new participants.
– Amendments are being prepared in the legislation that will oblige the establishment of charging stations in all parking lots and car parks. Will such a decision increase the demand for electric vehicles among Russians in the near future?
WHITE: Of course yes. It should be noted that the creation of an electric filling infrastructure is not as capital-intensive as, for example, the construction of a nationwide network of gas stations. There are different types of electric charging stations, but actually this is a regular 220 volt outlet. It is connected to the grid to provide enough power to charge the electric vehicle. In fact, you can organize an electric charge wherever there is electricity. For example, the Norwegian experience is interesting, where numerous points are placed on poles along the roads to connect cars to free charging, resulting in an increase in the share of electric vehicles in the country.
– In May, RENERA and the Moscow Aviation Institute signed an agreement on cooperation in the development of Russian electric air transport. What advantages will an aircraft powered by lithium-ion batteries have over ICE powered aircraft? Is a full transition to electric aircraft possible in the future?
– AK: “RENERA” is actively working on the promotion of lithium-ion batteries in electric transport and the energy sector. At the same time, we are trying to take a broader view of the market and consider the use of electric traction and electric batteries in other industries as a promising area, including shipbuilding and aerospace. Their use in aviation will affect the improvement of the design, the reduction of weight and dimensions of air transport, the reduction of operating costs, the minimization of emissions to the atmosphere and the absence of noise – this is a promising direction.
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