China Carbon Credit Platform

Last year, China's retired power batteries exceeded 580,000 tons, how to recycle?

Release Time3 weeks ago

With the continuous growth of China's new energy vehicle industry, the new energy vehicle power battery recycling industry has grown rapidly. According to data from the Society of Automotive Engineers of China, the total number of retired power batteries in China will exceed 580,000 tons in 2023. "Power batteries account for about 50% of carbon emissions in the production stage of new energy vehicles, and it is very important to establish and improve the recycling system of power batteries to improve the resource utilization level of the entire industry and reduce carbon emissions throughout the life cycle." Fu Yuwu, honorary chairman of the Society of Automotive Engineers of China, said.

Battery cascade utilization solves the contradiction of resources

As of the end of 2023, the number of new energy vehicles in China has reached 20.41 million, and the recycling of power batteries has also increased year by year with the growth of ownership. According to the warranty conditions of the car company, if the maximum capacity of the power battery is attenuated to less than 70% to 80%, the battery may need to be replaced. "Last year, the number of power battery retirements increased by more than 140% year-on-year, entering a period of retirement growth, and the power battery recycling industry is ushering in a new stage of accelerated development." Shuai Shijin, a professor at the School of Vehicles and Transportation at Tsinghua University, believes.

After the power battery is recycled, it should be used in cascades according to the maximum remaining capacity. Zhao Xiaoyong, chairman of Beijing Saidmei Resource Recycling Research Institute Co., Ltd., told reporters that if the battery capacity is between 60% and 80%, it can be used for electric forklifts, two-wheeled electric vehicles, large-scale energy storage power stations, etc.; The battery capacity is between 20% and 60%, which can be used for small energy storage power stations, communication base stations, solar energy storage systems, etc.; If the battery capacity is less than 20%, it will be scrapped and professionally dismantled, and the valuable metals in it will be extracted for recycling.

Among them, there are many precious resources such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese. Lang Xuehong, Deputy Secretary-General of the China Automobile Dealers Association, said: "The recycling of power batteries for new energy vehicles is an important part of the recycling of resources in 'urban mines'. "Strengthening the recycling of power batteries can meet the resource needs of 20% lithium, 11% nickel and 25% cobalt of China's new energy vehicles every year, and reduce the import dependence of key raw materials for power batteries in China.

Recycling technology development Business model formation

The power battery of new energy vehicles contains harmful chemicals of certain components, which will cause environmental pollution if they cannot be recycled in a timely and effective manner through formal professional channels.

"No matter from the perspective of environmental protection or energy recycling, solving the problem of power battery retirement and recycling is a great plan for the industry and the country." In an interview with reporters, Wei Fulei, director of the Finance, Taxation, Trade and Industrial Development Research Center of China (Shenzhen) Comprehensive Development Research Institute, believes that it is particularly important to clarify and implement the main responsibility of power battery recycling.

According to the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste and related policies, China has gradually established an extended producer responsibility system for automotive power batteries and other products in recent years. This means that power battery companies and automobile manufacturers should establish a waste power battery recycling system that matches the sales volume of products in accordance with the regulations by self-construction or commissioning.

Under the joint promotion of a number of policies and market mechanisms, the domestic power battery recycling field has gradually formed a recycling model with major power battery manufacturers, new energy vehicle enterprises, lithium battery material enterprises and qualified professional power battery recycling and dismantling enterprises as the main body. According to statistics from the China Battery Industry Association, as of the end of October 2023, 162 domestic automobile manufacturers and 77 power battery cascade utilization enterprises have set up a total of 10,507 power battery recycling service outlets.

At the same time, the continuous progress of power battery recycling technology has improved the recycling efficiency and provided favorable conditions for the development of the power battery recycling industry. "As the largest country in the production and sales of new energy vehicles, China not only leads in the number of power battery recycling, but also ranks among the top in the world in some battery recycling technologies." Zhao Xiaoyong said that in terms of recycling technology, the physical method and chemical method (wet method) of the domestic industry are parallel. Among them, the environmental protection and cost advantages of the physical recycling method are becoming increasingly prominent, which can realize a fully enclosed and fully automatic dismantling process, which will not produce the risk of secondary pollution, and there is no waste water and waste residue discharge, which is the best choice for recycling lithium iron phosphate and lithium carbonate batteries.

Theoretically, the higher the proportion of battery material dismantling and recycling, the lower the cost of power batteries. "Advanced technology, technology and professional power battery recycling can not only bring benefits to recycling enterprises, but also bring obvious economic benefits to the power battery industry." Hu Junwei, marketing manager of Shenzhen Qiantai Energy Renewable Technology Co., Ltd., said.

Policies continue to improve to help the industry go overseas

Industrial development is inseparable from the support of policies, in the rapid development of new energy vehicle power battery recycling industry at the same time, China's relevant policy system is gradually improving. From 2018 to 2023, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has successively announced 5 batches of white lists that meet the industry specifications for the comprehensive utilization of waste power batteries for new energy vehicles, and 156 enterprises have been selected. "The selected enterprises have strict requirements for technology, environmental protection and other indicators in terms of equipment, technology and facilities." Hu Junwei said that the use of the white list system can play an effective role in guiding and regulating the development of the industry.

At the end of last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the "Administrative Measures for the Comprehensive Utilization of Power Batteries for New Energy Vehicles (Draft for Comments)", which clarified the policy formulation and supervision and management principles for the comprehensive utilization of waste power batteries in China; Stipulate the product recycling responsibilities that automobile production, battery production, and cascade utilization enterprises should bear; It covers the management of R&D, design, production, operation, scrapping and other links. "The policy has consolidated the responsibility of the main business entity and built a closed regulatory loop for the comprehensive utilization of power batteries." Fu Yuwu said.

In the latest "Guiding Catalogue for Industrial Structure Adjustment (2024 Edition)" released by the National Development and Reform Commission, the recycling and reuse of waste power batteries is included in the encouraged category. The "Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of a Waste Recycling System" issued by the General Office of the State Council proposes to strengthen the recycling of waste power batteries, strengthen the traceability management of power batteries for new energy vehicles, vigorously promote the quality certification of power battery cascade utilization, study and formulate technical specifications for waste power battery recycling and dismantling enterprises, and carry out joint special inspection actions to clean up waste power batteries "workshop-type recycling". "China's new energy vehicle industry has formed a scale advantage and first-mover advantage, and the power battery recycling industry will also usher in a new stage of rapid development." Shuai Shijin said.

On a global scale, promoting the development of the power battery recycling industry has become a hot spot in the industry. For example, new energy vehicle power battery manufacturers entering the EU must provide ingredient descriptions, carbon footprint labels, battery "digital passports" that meet the EU hazardous substance content limit standards, and put forward clear requirements for power battery recycling.

"With the increase in China's new energy vehicle exports, the field of power battery recycling must also formulate a relatively complete policy system that is compatible with international rules." Zhang Jianping, deputy director of the Academic Committee of the Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce, believes that China is actively building a new development pattern of the policy system to adapt to the development of the power battery recycling industry in the new era, such as the "Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of a Waste Recycling System", which proposes to establish and improve the standard system of power battery ecological design and carbon footprint accounting, actively participate in the formulation of international standards for power battery recycling, and promote international cooperation and mutual recognition of standards and specifications.

Some institutions said that by 2030, China's power battery recycling volume will reach 6.028 million tons, and its market size will exceed 100 billion yuan. "Whether it is from the domestic market or from international competition, it is necessary to build a new ecology and new format of the power battery recycling industry with all-round coordination of 'government, industry, academia, research and application'." Fu Yuwu said.