Battery recycling draws fresh energy

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Cheng Yu
Tuesday 11 January 2022 12:20
<p>Employees arrange spent batteries at a battery recycling plant in Weinan, Shaanxi province, in August, 2021</p>

Employees arrange spent batteries at a battery recycling plant in Weinan, Shaanxi province, in August, 2021

A group of Chinese companies has announced plans to build or expand facilities for battery recycling, as China, the world’s largest new-energy vehicle market, ramps up battery recycling capacity.

Battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd said it will build a battery-material recycling factory in Hubei province at a cost of up to 32 billion yuan (£3.78 billion), with businesses covering electrical vehicle battery recycling.

Also, the Chinese battery materials maker Huayou Cobalt signed an agreement with the battery maker Farasis Energy to tap into various areas, including spent-battery recycling.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, nearly 3 million new-energy vehicles were sold in China during the first 11 months of 2021.

Tianyancha, a market information provider, said that by the end of November more than 27,000 Chinese companies were engaged in electric-vehicle battery businesses. There were more than 20,000 newly registered companies in 2020, accounting for 78.4 per cent of the total.

“Eyeing the booming sales of new-energy vehicles and the peak of retired batteries afterward, more companies are putting an effort into battery recycling, which will help them reduce costs and strengthen competitiveness over the long term,” said Roy Lu Yan, head of industrial research for the battery company Gotion High-Tech.

There were about 200,000 metric tonnes of decommissioned power batteries in China by the end of 2020, the China Automotive Technology and Research Centre said. The batteries can usually be used for about six to eight years.

By 2025 battery replacement will reach a peak, with 780,000 tonnes of old-power batteries expected to be replaced by then, the centre says.

A total of 171 companies had established more than 10,000 new-energy vehicle-battery recycling service stations in 31 regions in China by the end of October, said You Yong, deputy head of the energy conservation and comprehensive utilisation department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

“A recycling system for new-energy vehicles’ batteries has been initially established in China. The country will also explore a new business model that integrates the internet with recycling and encourages upstream and downstream companies in the industrial chain to jointly build common recycling channels.”

The country has adopted policies to encourage new-energy vehicle makers to set up recycling service networks by themselves or with others.

The National Development and Reform Commission adopted a plan last year to step up the building of a traceability management system for new-energy vehicle batteries and highlighted the role of echelon utilisation of power batteries.

In echelon utilisation the remaining power of discarded batteries is used in other areas, a move to make the most of the batteries’ residual power and protect the environment.

Liu Wenping, an analyst with China Merchants Securities, said that echelon utilisation is an effective way for companies to manage old batteries.

“As most of the power batteries in China are lithium-iron ones and do not contain high-value metals such as cobalt and nickel, echelon utilisation is a feasible solution.”

Wang Binggang, honorary consultant of the China Society of Automotive Engineering and an academician of the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, said: “China’s electric-vehicle industry has entered a new stage of rapid growth with the battery industry initially taking shape. It is strategically important for the country to have stable battery resources and a sound battery-recycle system.

“Such a move also has significance, as the country is committed to its carbon emissions reaching a peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality being achieved by 2060.”

Previously published on Chinadaily.com.cn

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