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China bans retired EV batteries usage

China’s top energy policymaker released new regulations that China bans retired EV batteries. It plans to ban large energy storage plants from using used automotive batteries. This rule came following several deadly safety incidents at battery and power plants. 

What does the new rule mean for storage plants?

The new rule highlights the challenge of repurposing used electric car batteries. Zhao Guangjin is an expert at the state-owned energy provider State Grid. He said that using old batteries may lead to higher operational costs than using new batteries. Furthermore, facilities may have to spend more to standardize used batteries. This may happen considering the different stages of use they will have when they arrive at the storage.

Further Details 

The National Energy Administration said in a draft policy document that it would ban “in principle” any new “large-size” energy storage projects that use repurposed lithium-ion batteries. The draft does not specify the criteria for defining “large-scale” projects. 

For existing large energy storage plants, the draft calls for more inspections, including adding regular technical reviews of battery life and performance. 

The energy regulator said the ban would last until after the industry “crosses a key threshold”. The threshold is in utilizing batteries under different storage and cycling conditions. Furthermore, it plans to set up a new review system to inspect battery performance.

Repurposed batteries can still be used in small energy storage projects, telecommunication base stations, and electric vehicles with a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour (44 miles per hour). 

The draft is under public review until July 22. 

Why did China ban retired EV batteries?

China is the world’s biggest electric vehicle market. As China bans retired EV batteries, it hopes to find a workable solution to recycle used batteries. Batteries from the first generation of electric cars released in the Chinese market around 2009 are now nearing the end of their life cycles. However, several recent safety incidents have increased scrutiny of the battery recycling industry. 

An explosion occurred at a recycling affiliate of China’s biggest battery supplier CATL in January. It killed one person and injuring six others.

In April, an explosion occurred at an energy storage power station in Beijing. Two firefighters died and another was injured. 

According to Kaiyuan Securities analyst Liu Qiang, Chinese companies are still in the process of refining battery storage technology and technical standards are still evolving.

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