Legislation lagging behind EV development

Legislation lagging behind EV development

The development and rollout of electrical transport are taking place at such a fast rate that current (inter)national legislation, standards and requirements are unable to keep pace. As a result, at present, the frameworks for regulations in no way cover all the safety and end-of-life aspects of EV. This was revealed in the first study report of the Safebat project, published this week. This project has been made possible thanks to financial support from the Automotive Innovation Programme (previously HTAS).

One of the study programmes is focused on the development and establishment of a knowledge base on battery ageing, a safe management structure for the recycling of EV batteries and the development of strategies and technologies for the reuse and recycling of end-of-life batteries. This substudy was undertaken by Kema, RUPS and ARN Advisory. As part of the study, in 2011, ARN Advisory approached manufacturers and importers of electric vehicles to participate in a market inventory. The report and findings on the various subjects are now available for download.

A number of key conclusions from the report are:

  • Transport of end-of-life and damaged batteries
    European ADR legislation for the transport of hazardous waste substances by road does not at present contain specific guidelines for industrial, end-of-life and damaged batteries. The industry considers this an undesirable situation. The guidelines currently in existence apply to the transport of new batteries; for the transport of end-of-life and damaged batteries, other safety aspects will have to be considered;
  • Knowledge of safe operation
    The current level of knowledge on dealing with end-of-life and damaged batteries is still insufficient. The volume of such batteries submitted for processing is still low at present, but is due to rise given market developments. In advance of this situation, ARN has started developing a training programme for dismantling companies.
  • Infrastructure and technology for recycling
    The processing industry is currently gearing up for the recycling of EV batteries. The number of companies and their capacity are however not yet sufficient for the large-scale processing of in particular Li-ion batteries. Because of the limited number of companies, there is also limited competition on the market. In combination with the negative residual value of Li-ion batteries, this situation is at present still leading to very high costs;
  • Number of EV vehicles in the Netherlands
    Predictions over the past few years of the numbers of electrical vehicles expected on Dutch roads have often been highly positive. The market is however developing more slowly than expected, due to the fact that EV technology has still not made a definitive breakthrough. In its report, RUPS has stated its expectation that by 2020, 125,000 EV vehicles will be in use on Dutch roads;
  • Second-life applications
    The possibilities for second-life applications require further investigation. One major stumbling block in the use of Li-ion batteries from cars for other applications, in addition to the question of technological viability, is the issue of product responsibility. At the end of the day, even following a second-life application, the battery will have to be recycled, and if the costs of recycling remain at the current high levels, the urgent question remains; who will eventually have to pay these high costs?

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