Electromobility: is the battery pass for electric cars coming?

Status: 04/25/2022 19:04

With a “battery passport”, the EU wants to help make electric car batteries more sustainable. A German pilot project is to propose standards. Audi and BMW also participate.

By Marcel Heberlein, ARD Capital Studio

CVs are known from applications. They could also be mandatory in the future for batteries installed in electric cars, for example. The EU is considering a battery passport. Michael Kellner, Green State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics, is also a supporter of the idea. “We want to create transparency with this pass,” says Kellner.

Marcel Heberlein

Transparency about the entire life cycle of the batteries, which means, for example: How were the raw materials for the battery extracted? Cobalt, Nickel, Lithium – Sometimes conditions are catastrophic for people and the environment. That should change. The goal is “the best environmental, climatic and social conditions in battery production,” says Kellner. How much CO2 was released into the air to make the battery? How much has been used in your life? All of this must be digitally recorded in a database. The EU is currently negotiating to make the battery passport mandatory in a few years. According to Kellner, 2026 is spoken of as the starting year.

many open questions

But Kellner and the Ministry don’t want to wait. An association of companies and research institutes in Germany should already think about what such a battery pass could look like. Audi participates in the project, BMW, but also the chemical company BASF and the Fraunhofer Institute. The federal government is financing the whole thing with around eight million euros. It should be particularly interesting for companies to get involved at an early stage when it comes to developing standards that they will then have to comply with. The Green Secretary of State sees no problem with this: “Good rules are created through mutual exchange,” says Kellner.

There are many unanswered questions about the design of a battery passport. The project aims to find answers. “How do we actually make sure the data is accurate? There have to be processes for this by independent third parties,” says BASF’s Thorsten Freund. Data transfer systems would also have to be forgery-proof. Audi’s Silja Pieh only sees the European path as a “first step”. She hopes to set an example for the global market, “so that we don’t have different requirements in different regions.”

“Recycling Instructions”

The pass should also increase the likelihood that the batteries will be recycled. Because the basis for meaningful recycling is to first record what is behind a battery, explains Susanne Kastner of the German Academy of Sciences and Engineering. It should be recorded, for example, “what extreme temperatures the battery has suffered” or if a complete discharge has occurred. Based on this dynamic data, a decision can be made about what the subsequent life cycle of a battery may look like: whether it could be used in another electric car, for example, or whether it would be better used in industry as a large storage battery. .

Michael Kellner of the Federal Ministry of Economics calls the battery pass “something like an instruction manual” for later recycling. “We know that raw materials should not be wasted. They should be used over and over again because metals have eternal life.” Kellner hopes that better recycling will also reduce reliance on imported raw materials. Furthermore, sustainability could be a competitive advantage in the future. The Ministry of Economy expects up to 100,000 jobs to be created in Germany by 2030 as a result of domestic battery production. “European battery production can only be successful if it focuses on sustainability in as many areas as possible,” says Kellner.

The federal government promotes the development of battery passports for electric cars

Marcel Heberlein, ARD Berlin, April 25, 2022 6:23 PM

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