Adrian Barber, Managing Director at EMB Power, electrification and battery lifecycle specialists for automotive, marine and off-highway, looks at what auto recyclers need to consider to create value from end of life EV batteries.
It’s a hot topic in the world of ATFs, and one that can get ‘hot’ in a less than desirable manner should things not go to plan. So how do we move from seeing EV batteries as a burden to sustainably managing them?
The challenge begins at conception, and industry concerns lie throughout the battery lifecycle before and after a battery is installed in an EV.
OEMs are obliged to replace failing batteries and honour buy-back clauses when failed batteries cannot be replaced. The life of a vehicle is suggested to be twenty-five years from initial release to the end of in-service support, whereas the technology lifecycle of a battery manufacturer is around three years.
This fast-moving technology, which is a new challenge for the automotive industry, means most batteries will go out of production before the demand for them falls away. OEMs must therefore safely hold adequate stocks of batteries to support existing vehicle fleets whilst maintaining their condition for this purpose.
EV batteries will become cheaper to buy as volumes increase, but with unit prices often exceeding £10k, they remain a high component cost. Add this to the cost of managing battery assets when ‘out of service’ (logistics, managing condition, disposal), and the result is high EV selling prices, which in turn hinders EV sales growth and works against the ‘green’ agenda.
At the end of their ‘in-service’ life, OEMs, recovery businesses and recyclers still largely see EV batteries as a liability, with most moving swiftly to the reclamation of battery precious metal content. Can more be earned by making better-informed decisions before writing off a battery as only suitable for dismantling?
If batteries can be proactively managed over their expected lifetime, significant additional value can be unlocked before the battery is dismantled. The key to this is to identify and evaluate the options at each stage of a battery’s life and manage it accordingly, viewing it as a value-creating asset rather than a liability.
It’s simply not sustainable for EV batteries to remain a burden.
A properly managed individual battery could provide years of useful energy capacity, in a variety of applications beyond its original purpose, before it is broken down. So it’s important to understand when it’s the right time to finally classify a battery as ‘waste’ and recover the materials.
Backed by The Sustainable Innovation Fund, at EMB Power we are deep into a project involving industry stakeholders and academics where we are understanding the value that can be placed on an EV battery at each stage of its lifecycle. Our belief is that in doing so, we can confirm that an EV battery is actually a valuable, tradable commodity which can be sustainable financially for all involved.
The key to unlocking this value is understanding and managing not only a battery’s condition but also the potential applications at each stage of the battery’s life. From reusing for green parts to repurposing in 2nd life applications, and ultimately the profit to be made from breaking down into parts and rare material recovery, there’s a new business emerging and now is the time to establish your position.
If you’d like to learn more about ‘Managing and Trading Batteries as Assets’, please get in touch with Adrian by calling 01625 861328 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org