Tesla, Quebec, LG, and others work on new ‘battery passport’

Tesla, Quebec, LG, and others, through the Global Battery Alliance, are working on a new “battery passport” to help track battery materials.

The project is important to make EV batteries sustainable and is critical to the new EV incentive in the United States.

One of the biggest arguments from EV naysayers is that battery material mining is just as polluting as burning gasoline.

That’s plain false based on important studies, but it doesn’t mean that there’s no room for improvements in making battery material mining more sustainable and ensuring that all the resources come from ethical operations – especially without child labor.

Global Battery Alliance (GAB) is pushing a new solution called a “Battery Passport.”

GAB is an industry group made up of over 100 companies involved in the EV battery supply chain from mining companies like Glencore to automakers like Tesla and battery cell makers like LG. The group’s goal is to “help establish a sustainable battery value chain by 2030.”

One of the first steps in making a sustainable battery value chain is to understand where all materials in a battery cell come from, which is harder than one might think. A battery cell is mainly made up of a cathode, anode, separator, and electrolyte, and each of these parts is made of several different materials that need to be processed.

From mining to processing to assembly, it can be hard to know where every part of a battery cell came from, which is important to know to make sure the entire value chain is sustainable.

It also happens to be important for automakers to know in the United States since the new federal tax credit for electric vehicles includes a requirements that battery materials come from North America or countries with free trade agreements with the United States in order to get the full $7,500 credit for new EV purchases.

Some automakers are not even sure if they will get the full credit when it goes into effect in 2023 because tracking can be so difficult.

This is where the Global Battery Alliance’s battery passport comes in. The group describes the project on its website:

The Battery Passport is a digital representation of a battery that conveys information about all applicable ESG and lifecycle requirements based on a comprehensive definition of a sustainable battery. Each Battery Passport will be a digital twin of its physical battery enabled by the digital Battery Passport platform, which offers a global solution for securely sharing information and data. This platform aims to go beyond enabling the performance management of just one battery to that of all batteries across the full industry value chain.

The project is led by GBA’s steering committee, which is co-chaired by Tristan Mecham, Tesla’s project manager for responsible sourcing, and Simon Thibault, senior director of battery value chain for Investissement Québec, a public investment arm of the Quebec government.

Interestingly, we recently reported that Tesla has been visiting local mining companies in Quebec, and it is looking for a potential factory location.

The group explains in more concrete points what the battery passport will consist of:

  • A global reporting framework to govern rules around measurement, auditing, and reporting of ESG parameters across the battery value chain.
  • A digital ID for batteries containing data and descriptions about the ESG performance, manufacturing history, and provenance as well as advancing battery life extension and enabling recycling.
  • Harmonizing of digital systems collaborating across the value chain to report data into the battery passport.
  • A digital platform that will collect, exchange, collate, and report data among all authorized lifecycle stakeholders to advance a sustainable value chain for electric vehicle (EV) and stationary batteries. It will transparently report progress toward global goals along the battery value chain to inform policy-making for governments and the civil society, and develop performance benchmarks.
  • A quality seal for batteries (based on the data reported into the platform) to facilitate responsible purchasing by consumers.

Years in the making, the group recently announced the first step in achieving its battery passport with the release of the first version of the Greenhouse Gas Rulebook.

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