RMI and RMI India’s new report, titled Towards a Sustainable Battery Manufacturing Industry: The Case for Effective Reuse and Recycling, highlights how circular economic policies for batteries can drive India’s ambitious decarbonization goals and strengthen national energy security. The report anticipates that battery recycling capacity needs to grow at a minimum of 135% annually between now and 2030.

Energy storage technologies will play a crucial role in accelerating India’s ambitious decarbonization goals recently announced at COP26. As a growing volume of battery technologies begin to reach end -of-life by 2030, India has the opportunity now to establish policy and infrastructure necessary to capture the full value of these vital assets. This warrants a national impetus on creating a domestic battery reuse and recycling industry to capture the full value of lithium-ion batteries, while creating market opportunity locally through material reuse, which will in turn strengthen the country’s energy security.

The report presents an assessment of the need for robust battery recycling capacity to meet national collection and recycling targets, as between 3.5 and 17 GWh of lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) will reach end-of-usable-life in the transportation sector by 2030. Establishing infrastructure to recover materials from these batteries compliments the ongoing push towards establishing domestic manufacturing capacity through the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for ACC batteries. Clay Stranger, Managing Director, RMI said, “Establishing a circular economy for lithium-ion and other advanced batteries compliments the PLI scheme for ACC battery manufacturing and market creation mechanisms like the FAME II scheme. Collectively, they have the potential to strengthen India’s energy security, and facilitate a sustainable and reliable battery manufacturing sector.”

In 2020 the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) put forward draft Battery Waste Management Rules While the rules would provide strong benefits for India’s domestic battery manufacturing sector and decarbonization efforts, the policy can be further refined and improved. This report suggests the following opportunities to update the policy approach. First, there is a need to provide specific language and guidance to reduce material hazard risks of handling and transporting LiBs. Second, to secure the future of this emerging industry the report also emphasizes the need for strong incentives and policy around second life applications for LiBs and creating mechanisms to facilitate second use adoption. Lastly, there is a need to address the external enablers of a successful battery waste management program. These include aspects around funding mechanisms and cost management, incentivizing consumer compliance, and strengthening enforcement mechanisms.

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