The renewable energy industry is rapidly growing and, as a result, high-capacity long-life battery storage is essential for success. After all, battery manufacturing and disposal processes alike determine their environmental impact for years to come. Therefore, the creation of a circular economy for batteries is fundamental to ensuring the existing environmental crisis isn’t exacerbated.
Modern technology has allowed us to make leaps and bounds in terms of renewable energy; however, it still only accounts for 11% of the world’s primary energy. This has only doubled in the last 50 years, meaning the transition to renewable energy sources needs to move a lot quicker.
Overcoming Obstacles to Renewable Energy
In order to make this transition, we must overcome the numerous obstacles associated with renewable energy. For instance, the cost of infrastructure development, low oil prices, and subsidies for non-renewable energy have all stood in the way of renewable energy in the past. Similarly, social barriers have restricted progress, with individuals being concerned about adjustments in established ways of life, as well as local landscapes. It’s true that these barriers still exist, but we’re becoming increasingly aware of the negative impacts of non-renewable energy sources. To that avail, renewable energy is receiving more investment regarding extraction, manufacturing, storage, and disposal.
Battery Design and Manufacturing
The development of batteries is especially important in the transport and utility industries. This development comes in the form of lithium-ion batteries; however, these are still not without their challenges. If we don’t move towards a circular economy, electric vehicles could produce 11 million tonnes of lithium-ion battery waste by 2030.
Eradicating Battery Waste
The existing design for lithium-ion batteries results in repairing, remanufacturing, and recycling difficulties. This is because the components are typically glued or welded together, making the replacement of singular parts difficult. As a result, batteries with remaining charging capacity are being thrown away.
Prolonging Battery Life
One way to prevent batteries from being thrown away unnecessarily is to prolong their lifespan. This can be achieved by reusing batteries effectively; while automotive batteries can’t be used in cars after losing too much of their storage capacity, they can be employed in other industries. This also means manufacturers will need to retain ownership of batteries so they can be distributed throughout various industries.
Manufacturers are working to create lithium-ion batteries in which elements can be replaced with ease. From this, these batteries should last significantly longer when necessary maintenance is carried out.
Recycling Used Elements
Lithium battery recycling is one of the most important features of building a circular economy for batteries. It’s all well and good to make it easier to reuse batteries; however, the disposal of these materials also needs to be considered. When not disposed of correctly, toxic materials are discharged into the environment, resulting in the pollution of water and soil.
Unfortunately, the recycling of lithium-ion batteries isn’t without its technical difficulties. In fact, the cost of doing so is substantial. Therefore, more recycling plants need to be established and operated to allow this sector of the industry to develop.
To make the development of renewable energy successful, the support of policymakers is required. This means searching for opportunities and challenges within the industry to innovate usual practices.
For instance, lifetime green credentials must come into play, all the way from the extraction of materials to the disposal of battery products. Similarly, the energy spent mining materials needs to be redirected, which means alternative methods need to be made possible. That’s where the policymakers come in, as it’s down to them to put the provisions in place to make these innovations possible.
If all the technical obstacles are overcome, and supportive measures are implemented, the establishment of a circular economy for batteries could be huge. For instance, it could contribute to the provision of power for developing countries via closed-loop energy systems. These systems revolve around energy sources such as solar panels. What’s more, batteries in a circular economy would allow for an uninterrupted power supply. This is because lithium-ion batteries are able to operate without the need for cooling.
Ultimately, the establishment of a circular economy for batteries relies on the transition to renewable energy. This means extending the lifespan of batteries and reducing wastage and pollution.
Work Towards a Circular Economy for Batteries with YOK Energy
Here at YOK Energy, we’re constantly working to innovate the sphere of battery supply. By working with YOK Energy, you can rest assured that your business will help the world in moving towards a circular economy for batteries.
Get in touch to learn more about our mission and what we can do for your business. We look forward to hearing from you and joining forces in the creation of a circular economy for batteries.