New GIZ and EnDev Publication on End-of-Life Management of Batteries in the Off-grid Solar Sector

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Bangladesh 2018/11/07

7 November 2018

This new publication prepared by Öko-Institut and Sofies looks at the question of how to deal with hazardous battery waste from solar power projects in developing countries

Cover page of the publication

GIZ end-of-life management of batteries in the off-grid sector.png Cover page of the publication

The GIZ sector project Concepts for Sustainable Solid Waste Management and Circular Economy together with Energising Development (EnDev) have published a new document that covers End-of-Life Management of Batteries in the Off-grid Solar Sector. The publication was authored by Öko-Institut and Sofies and introduces the risks associated with hazardous waste arising from lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries in the off-grid solar sector, as well as providing practical recommendations for end-of-life treatment.

Key findings

The publication starts with a brief overview on electronic waste resulting from different components typically used in off-grid solar projects. As batteries have short lifetimes and often represent a hazardous waste, the focus of the rest of the report is on aspects relevant to the end-of-life treatment of batteries and in particular, that of the two most commonly used chemistries: lead-acid and lithium-ion.

The economic aspects and safety risks associated with each of these chemistries are very different and consequently make it difficult to provide a general recommendation on which chemistry is preferable to the other for any given context. While lead-acid batteries generally pose a greater danger to health and environment, in many cases an informal collection chain and recycling sector is in place due to the recycling value of lead. Lithium-ion batteries have a lower toxicity from an end-of-life perspective but due to their low value for recycling, are often discarded in the open field.

The publication aims to provide information on key aspects such as recycling practice, choosing battery types, product and system design, partnerships, business models and policy approaches for responsible collection and recycling. Given the strong context-dependency it is not possible to provide generic guidelines. However, consideration of battery types and developing options for end-of-life management are an important factor to ensure the sustainable impact of solar projects in the future.

The report is available for download here.