How to create a supply chain that is sustainable and ethical with new battery technologies and energy storage solutions?

Looking at the battery usage trends in India lithium-ion batteries are an extremely popular and widely used option. Its ability to seamlessly integrate into a wide range of applications and have made it an attractive solution for EVs.

EV battery
Lithium-ion batteries are extremely popular and widely used option in India

By Pritesh Mahajan, Co-Founder and CEO, Revamp Moto

As the world shifts towards cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy, the demand for new battery technologies and energy storage solutions is rapidly increasing. However, it is important to ensure that the supply chain for these technologies is not only efficient but also sustainable and ethical.

A sustainable and ethical supply chain not only guarantees that the materials and components used in these technologies are sourced responsibly but also ensures that the production process and disposal of these batteries do not harm the environment and communities. Furthermore, it ensures that battery technologies and energy storage solutions are accessible and affordable to all, not just a privileged few. Creating a sustainable and ethical supply chain for these technologies is essential for a successful transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.

Current Battery Consumption Patterns – A Closer Look

Looking at the battery usage trends in India lithium-ion batteries are an extremely popular and widely used option. Its ability to seamlessly integrate into a wide range of applications and have made it an attractive solution for EVs. However, these lithium-ion batteries do have some limitations that need to be considered in terms of sustainability. 

Resource depletion: Lithium is a relatively rare metal, and it is mainly sourced from a few countries, such as Chile, Argentina and China. The extraction of lithium can have negative impacts on the environment and local communities, and as the demand for lithium-ion batteries increases, it could lead to resource depletion and price volatility.

lithium deposit found in india

Environmental impact: The production of lithium-ion batteries requires a significant amount of energy and water, and can generate pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the end-of-life disposal of lithium-ion batteries can be problematic, as they can release toxic chemicals if not handled properly.

Costly and have a short life span: Lithium-ion batteries are currently relatively expensive and may not be accessible to all communities and countries. Moreover, lithium-ion batteries, have a limited life span and need to be replaced after a few years, which also contributes to the environmental impact of these batteries.

It is important to note, that lithium-ion battery technology is still advancing rapidly, and researchers are working on solutions to improve their sustainability in terms of recycling and the use of more sustainable materials. However, alternative options, such as solid-state batteries, sodium-ion batteries, and lithium-sulfur batteries, are being developed and studied, but they are not yet widely available. 

A potential way forward towards creating new, sustainable and ethical battery technologies.

Considering the fact of shortage of lithium-ion ores which are widely used in current EV battery packs, there is a need to shift to advanced chemistries. India being surplus of aluminium, there is a need to shift to safer and better chemistries which are aluminium based.

Aluminium-based batteries have a high potential to be safer and more sustainable than lithium-ion batteries. It is an abundant and low-cost material, it can be extracted and processed more easily and with less environmental impact than lithium. Additionally, aluminium-based batteries are nonflammable, which reduces the risk of thermal runaway and fires, a common issue with lithium-ion batteries. They also have the potential to have a longer lifespan and be more economical than lithiumion batteries.

Some more battery alternatives that can not only provide a circular economy to India but also help in a sustainable supply chain include –

Solid-state batteries: Solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte instead of a liquid one, which can improve safety and increase energy density. They also have a longer lifespan than lithium-ion batteries and are less prone to overheating. 

Sodium-ion batteries: Sodium-ion batteries use sodium instead of lithium as the main component, which is more abundant and less expensive than lithium. They also have a similar energy density to lithium-ion batteries and can be used in similar applications. 

Metal-air batteries: Metal-air batteries use air as the cathode material, which makes them lightweight and increases energy density. They can be made using sustainable materials and have a long lifespan. 

Apart from battery technologies, sustainable energy development companies also need to ensure their practices are ethical and ecological right from manufacturing to end-product delivery. These practices form an essential part of our industry ecosystem and add to the common goal of sustainability that we are all collectively working towards. A strong ESG (Environmental Social Governance) presence, Solar Input along with ‘Well to Wheel Efficiency is how the energy industry can ensure sustainable practices. 

Licensing Support

Over and above the constant R&D going on for new battery technologies, it is important to recognize the exceptional support extended by the Government Of India. The government plays a very important role in promoting sustainable and ethical supply chains by setting regulations and standards for the industry and providing incentives or subsidies for sustainable practices. In India, ISRO too has opened up licenses for new battery technologies thus encouraging more industry players to work towards better energy storage solutions.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.

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First published on: 11-02-2023 at 08:00 IST