The market growth of electric vehicles and the widening adoption of energy storage systems in the utility sector have led to booming demand for lithium batteries worldwide. However, the surge in the use of lithium batteries has also raised concerns about the disposal and recycling of these devices at the end of their lifecycle. Recently, GlidePath Power Solutions and Renewance have entered into an alliance to build a supply chain for recycling lithium batteries in the US. GlidePath is an independent developer of renewable energy projects, while Renewance specializes in software solutions and management services for industrial batteries. Both companies are based in the state of Illinois.
Under the agreement signed between the two companies in late October, GlidePath will employ the Renewance Connect platform to manage its energy storage assets for their entire lifecycle. GlidePath seeks Renewance’s expertise because it wants to tackle the challenge of recycling and resusing batteries “upfront” rather than “down the track”.
Besides software and management, Renewance also provides consultancy and can operate energy storage facilities for their owners. Its mission is to work with clients in addressing issues affecting industrial batteries from the start to the end of their lifecycle.
With respect to GlidePath’s energy storage portfolio, Renewance will be responsible for battery decommissioning, collection, and recycling. Renewance Connect is a digital platform through which clients can access resources, tools, and management services that ensure their battery-based energy storage systems operate at peak efficiency, comply with regulations, and are covered under warranties.
Renewance has stated that it has already recycled lithium batteries deployed in large-scale energy storage projects in the US. These include two 18MWh systems that feature LFP batteries. They operate in the PJM Interconnection market that covers the mid-western part of the country. It should also be noted that GlidePath is Renewance’s largest client to date.
GlidePath CEO Chris McKissack said that his company has been expanding its energy storage portfolio for a while now. To continue this growth, GlidePath must be prepared to deal with the various challenges that arise during the entire battery lifecycle. McKissack added that the partnership between the two companies will foster the development of the SOP for recycling batteries used in energy storage systems.
Renewance will assist GlidePath in the decommissioning of old batteries that reach end-of-life. Moreover, its platform will optimize costs and streamline operations for GlidePath’s projects.
The best solution is to plan ahead
According to industry analysts, the installation of large-scale energy storage systems only started to gain momentum in the middle of the previous decade. Therefore, the problem of disposing and recycling batteries is still relatively small in scale in the utility sector. Nevertheless, the management of GlidePath believes it must be dealt with sooner rather than later.
Anne Foster, head of ESG at Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, said that alliances such as the one between GlidePath and Renewance are important because finding sustainable energy storage solutions is crucial to the growth of renewable energy projects. Moreover, the battery industry and developers of energy storage systems have to take a proactive, forward-looking stance on battery waste instead of simply reacting to this problem and being a follower. Innovations from Renewance and other technology providers are therefore increasingly “must-have” for project developers like GlidePath, which is a subsidiary of Quinbrook.
Presently, the number of companies that are engaging in recycling Li-ion batteries and salvaging their component materials is quite low. An example would by Li-Cycle, a Canadian company with a commercially viable process. Besides its home country, Li-Cycle also operates in the US and is building a plant in upstate New York. On the whole, this section of the supply chain for Li-ion batteries is not well-developed compared with the supply chain for lead-acid batteries. Hence, more work needs to be done going forward.
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