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42 Global Organizations Agree on Guiding Principles for Batteries to Power Sustainable Energy Transition

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Batteries will be a major driver in reducing the carbon footprint of the transport and power sectors through the use of electric vehicles and renewable energy. To help companies and governments, the Global Battery Alliance designed 10 guiding principles for the creation of a sustainable battery chain by 2030.

These principles are intended as the first step in a responsible, sustainable battery value chain as set out in the Global Battery Alliance’s “A Vision for a Sustainable Battery Value Chain in 2030”. Implementing commitments will be based on existing standards such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Due Diligence Guidance and economically viable considerations for a circular and low carbon economy.

At the Annual Meeting 2020, 42 organizations, including businesses from mining, chemicals, battery, automotive and energy industries, representing annual revenue of close to a trillion dollars, along with international organizations and global NGOs, have agreed on the 10 guiding principles.

They include maximizing the productivity of batteries, enabling a productive and safe second life use, circular recovery of battery materials, ensuring transparency of greenhouse gas emissions and their progressive reduction, prioritizing energy efficiency measures and increasing the use of renewable energy, fostering battery-enabled renewable energy integration, high quality job creation and skills development, eliminating child and forced labour, protecting public health and the environment and supporting responsible trade and anti-corruption practices, local value creation and economic diversification.

“We all need batteries to power the clean revolution. However, we must ensure violations of human rights do not occur anywhere in the value chain, that local communities benefit and that battery production is sustainable. These guiding principles are an important first step to build a value chain that can deliver on this promise while supporting societies and economies at the same time”, said Dominic Waughray, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.

Organizations supporting the realization of a battery value chain that meets these principles include AB Volvo, African Development Bank, Amara Raja Batteries , Analog Devices, Audi, BASF, Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW), Cadenza Innovation, China EV100, Clarios, ClimateWorks Foundation, Enel, Envision Group, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), Everledger, Fairphone, Fundacion Chile, Good Shepherd International Foundation, Greentech Capital Advisors, Groupe Renault, Honda, IMPACT, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), International Justice Mission (IJM), Johnson Matthey, International Lead Association (ILA), Leaseplan, Office of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), OPTEL Group, Pact, Pure Earth, Responsible Battery Coalition, SGS, SK Innovation, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile SA (SQM), The Faraday Institution, The World Bank Group, Trafigura, Transport & Environment (T&E), Umicore, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Volkswagen Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). To realize the full ambition of these principles, the Global Battery Alliance is actively seeking the endorsement of additional organizations to ensure full participation throughout the battery value chain.

This alignment among key players in the battery market establishes the basis for a transparent accountability system. It will guide the development of a global digital battery information disclosure system referred to as the “Battery Passport”, which is designed to enable a transparent value chain, for example, with respect to human rights and the environmental footprint.

What the signatories say

“Je suis ravi d’annoncer que le Gouvernement de la République Démocratique du Congo soutient la Global Battery Alliance et ses dix principes directeurs. J’invite les membres de mon gouvernement à travailler avec l’Alliance afin d’établir une chaîne de valeur durable du cobalt. C’est indispensable pour permettre la transition énergétique.” Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

“Amara Raja is fully committed to support the transition to a carbon neutral energy footprint across the globe and recognizes that advanced battery technologies have a critical role to play to enable and accelerate this transition. Amara Raja is delighted to be part of the Global Battery Alliance efforts to drive the transition and endorses the ‘Principles and Commitments to Realize the 2030 Vision’. The principles and commitments as articulated by the GBA provide a framework for implementation of a scalable and sustainable approach for faster adoption of smart energy solutions for a greener future.” Vijayanand Kumar Samudrala, Chief Executive Officer, Amara Raja Batteries

“Analog Devices strongly believes that technology is one of the key enablers for a sustainable, circular and ultimately regenerative economy. Batteries will play a key part in enabling this shift as the world accelerates towards renewable energy sources. It is vital that the value chain forming around batteries is both sustainable and just across the entire lifecycle of the battery, from extraction and formation to second life and recycling. At Analog Devices, we support the work of the Global Battery Alliance and fully endorse the 10 principles for a sustainable value chain.” Vincent Roche, Chief Executive Officer, Analog Devices

“For Audi, batteries are key on our way to carbon neutral mobility. To ensure that this technology is thoroughly sustainable, we welcome and support the GBA initiative and our common principles. We believe in the power of joint collaboration across all stakeholders in the entire value chain of batteries and therefore encourage others to join the GBA as well. Audi is striving for a reliable “sustainability performance seal”, carried out by robust stakeholder engagement, which stands as a global reference for clean and ethically produced batteries.” Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing, Audi

“These guiding principles are a milestone for the Global Battery Alliance to promote a sustainable and responsible battery value chain. As a founding member of the alliance, BASF welcomes a joint vision and concrete actions, such as the planned battery passport.” Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF and Co-Chair of the Global Battery Alliance

“An efficient, transparent, sustainable global value chain is vital to ensuring that the battery industry continues to meet unprecedented demand in an innovative and socially responsible manner. The guidelines put forth by the Global Battery Alliance provide a thoughtful and actionable approach for ensuring that. By bolstering the role that energy storage plays in combatting climate change while lifting underserved populations up out of energy poverty, the GBA’s efforts can benefit our whole society.” Christina Lampe-Onnerud, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cadenza Innovation

“The 10 principles of the Global Battery Alliance have far-reaching significance for the development of the global battery industry, and will play a guiding role in the orderly and sustainable development of the battery value chain. As a think tank and exchange platform for China’s electric vehicle industry, China EV100 has been committed to conducting research and cross-industry exchanges on the entire value chain and recycling of the battery industry for the past six years. We are willing to work with GBA to help the energy transition and decarbonization of the transportation industry along with the sustainable development of the electric vehicle and battery value chain.” Liu Xiaoshi, Executive Deputy Secretary-General, China EV100

“When combined with zero-carbon electricity from sources like wind and solar, batteries can cleanly power our vehicles, homes and businesses, reducing climate pollution and advancing sustainable development. As an organization dedicated to ending the climate crisis, the ClimateWorks Foundation supports the work of the GBA and applauds its efforts to improve battery supply chain sustainability in the mining and extraction industries and ensure greater transparency and traceability.” Charlotte Pera, President and Chief Executive Officer, ClimateWorks Foundation

“We support these principles as they are fully aligned with our strategy and with commitments we have already made to the environment, society, human and labour rights. The collaboration of the whole value chain to sustainably supply battery storage systems is key to accelerate the energy transition. As the world’s leading private operator of renewables and networks, we have implemented tangible actions to foster a circular and sustainable value chain that is respectful of human rights.” Francesco Starace, Chief Executive Officer, ENEL

“As we convene for the 50th anniversary Davos meeting, the launch of the 10 key principles will help bring the Alliance one step closer to unlocking the potential of batteries to power sustainable development. We are aiming to ensure that the vast benefits to the global economy never come at the cost of the most vulnerable communities. A key focus for ERG is working with all Alliance members to eradicate child labour within the battery value chain.” Benedikt Sobotka, Chief Executive Officer of Eurasian Resources Group and Co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance

“At Everledger, we believe technology is one of the greatest platforms for change towards a low carbon economy. We not only support the principles of the GBA, but also enable the global battery value chain to achieve ever increasing levels of transparency for sustainability efforts.” Leanne Kemp, Chief Executive Officer, Everledger

“It is time we as an industry make a joint effort in cleaning up our battery supply chains. We welcome the GBA principles as an important step towards this.” Monique Lempers, Director Impact Innovation, Fairphone

“As non-corporate members of the Global Battery Alliance, we endorse the GBA principles for the development of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable battery value chain. Aligning our diverse global collaboration platform around the principles – placing the Sustainable Development Goals and the critical connectivity of human rights and development at the heart of the value chain – is an important step forward for the GBA. We are committed to monitoring and implementing joint programmes to deliver concrete progress against the principles, and developing clear and transparent measuring tools, as we continue to support this critical effort.” Joint statement from Cristina Duranti, Director, Good Shepherd International Foundation; Joanne Lebert, Executive Director, IMPACT; Gary A. Haugen, Chief Executive Officer, International Justice Mission; Karen Hayes, Vice-President, Mines to Markets, Pact; Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Assistant Secretary-General and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

“We fully endorse the Global Battery Alliance’s bid to develop a responsible and sustainable battery value chain. The world is going to need many more batteries using different chemistries and technologies as demand for energy storage continues to grow and we are encouraged that the 10 guiding principles make reference to lead-based batteries that will continue to play a significant role in achieving the UN sustainability goal to provide access to clean and affordable energy for all. The GBA’s aim to foster the creation of a sustainable battery value chain by 2030 is fully aligned with lead battery industry’s material stewardship initiative and our own guiding principles.” Andy Bush, Managing Director, International Lead Association

“Johnson Matthey is very pleased to support the 10 principles of the GBA, which underpin our company’s vision to build a cleaner, healthier world. This a key milestone for the battery community as we align to deliver common objectives that will power a sustainable energy transition in a way that safeguards and benefits the whole supply chain and the planet. JM is fully committed to working together with the GBA on these critically important efforts.” Robert MacLeod, Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Matthey

“Electric vehicles and the batteries that power them are central to the fight against climate change. LeasePlan therefore fully supports the work of the Global Battery Alliance to ensure we have safe, clean and ethically produced batteries. Collectively, we are determined to build a 100% sustainable battery value chain and ensure the industry maintains its social licence to operate.” Tex Gunning, Chief Executive Officer, LeasePlan

“We welcome the adoption of GBA principles that explicitly refer to the need for human rights standards in the battery supply chain. To effectively address child labour and other human rights issues, formalization of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sites is key. The GBA is ideally positioned to pool knowledge and resources to develop ASM formalization standards that can be implemented in the DRC.” Michael Posner, Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, Director of the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights

“At OPTEL, we are proud to use our traceability expertise to contribute to the achievement of the GBA principles towards a sustainable battery value chain. This project fits perfectly with our mission of using innovative technologies to create a more sustainable world and we recognize all the organizations jointly involved in this effort.” Louis Roy, President, OPTEL GROUP

“The Global Battery Alliance is moving the needle with respect to batteries. Health problems from battery recycling (especially lead-acid batteries) are ridiculously enormous. We need to avoid a similar problem with lithium batteries, as their boom continues. GBA is the group that can make this happen.” Richard Fuller, President, Pure Earth

“Batteries are becoming a significantly more important part of our energy infrastructure, economy and national security. A key part of sustaining our growing, battery-reliant energy infrastructure is to conserve human and natural resources. We at the Responsible Battery Coalition are proud to join with our fellow members of the Global Battery Alliance in supporting these principles and working together in creating a sustainable, humane and circular battery value chain.” Steve Christensen, Executive Director, Responsible Battery Coalition

“SK Innovation fully supports the 10 guiding principles and the GBA’s ambition to build sustainable global battery value chain by 2030. This vision and timeframe dovetails with SK Innovation’s ‘Green Balance 2030’ initiative, which will accelerate our transition to a low carbon economy. Moreover, we believe accurate measurement is the very first step in building momentum and credibility for a sustainable value chain. SK group-wide socio-environmental impact assessments demonstrate that our growing battery business is leading the way with our decarbonization efforts.” Jun Kim, President and Chief Executive Officer, SK Innovation

“In the last 25 years SQM has been operating and optimizing its sustainable production process for lithium. SQM takes its responsibility seriously in protecting the environment and ensuring the well-being of its neighbouring communities. As a key element to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, today we are taking another step, making a public and transparent commitment to the principles of the Global Battery Alliance of the World Economic Forum to ensure sustainable supply of lithium. SQM is proud to endorse the GBA principles of the World Economic Forum. As a leading lithium producer, we believe this is major step towards realizing a sustainable battery supply chain.” Ricardo Ramos, Chief Executive Officer, SQM

“We must diligently work together and support governments like that of the DRC in their efforts to address shortcomings in the Lithium-ion value chain. These challenges cannot be wished away. The adoption of the Global Battery Alliance principles provides a welcome foundation in pursuit of the responsible sourcing of materials such as cobalt, which are essential for the transition to low carbon economies.” Jeremy Weir, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Trafigura

“Rechargeable Batteries are the best technology to achieve zero emissions mobility and underpin climate neutral economy of the future. The Global Battery Alliance should accelerate the transition to sustainably sourced and produced batteries by enabling full traceability along the supply chain and implementing the Battery Passport. GBA’s members include the world’s largest mining and smelting companies so it is in their power to guarantee responsible, safe and inclusive extraction of battery metals in developing countries.” Julia Poliscanova, Director, Transport & Environment’s Clean Vehicles and E-Mobility Director

“I am very pleased that after over two years of intense work among many key stakeholders of the battery value chain we have reached consensus on 10 challenging principles. In particular, the principles call for ‘immediately and urgently eliminating child and forced labour’ from the batteries. Indeed, we cannot accept that the pursuit of climate neutrality should in any way involve child labour. Therefore (along with the immediate elimination of child labour) I am prepared to pledge significant funds to support the work of a consortium of NGOs in order to ensure that children are out of the mines and I invite other members of the Global Battery Alliance to join me for the creation of this fund.” Marc Grynberg, Chief Executive Officer, Umicore

“At Volkswagen, our sustainability and social responsibility requirements go well beyond production and cover the entire value chain. We do not tolerate any infringements of environmental and social standards – this applies to the entire supply chain. That’s why we support the GBA and are committed to the 10 principles that were agreed today as a building block to safeguard human rights and economic development consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” Ralf Pfitzner, Head of Sustainability, Volkswagen Group

Sustainable batteries are a must for our society to thrive within planet boundaries. WBCSD welcomes the 10 principles for a sustainable value chain that protects human rights and accelerate the transition to carbon neutrality, and will continue to support the Global Battery Alliance members in their action towards the vision for a sustainable battery value chain by 2030”, Maria Mendiluce, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

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World Adds Record New Renewable Energy Capacity in 2020

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Global renewable energy capacity additions in 2020 beat earlier estimates and all previous records despite the economic slowdown that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) the world added more than 260 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity last year, exceeding expansion in 2019 by close to 50 per cent.

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that renewable energy’s share of all new generating capacity rose considerably for the second year in a row. More than 80 per cent of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91 per cent of new renewables.

Renewables’ rising share of the total is partly attributable to net decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and for the first time across Eurasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation and Turkey). Total fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW in 2020 from 64 GW the previous year highlighting a continued downward trend of fossil fuel expansion.

“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean and just future,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “The great reset offered a moment of reflection and chance to align our trajectory with the path to inclusive prosperity, and there are signs we are grasping it.

“Despite the difficult period, as we predicted, 2020 marks the start of the decade of renewables,” continued Mr. La Camera. “Costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear. This trend is unstoppable, but as the review of our World Energy Transitions Outlook highlights, there is a huge amount to be done. Our 1.5 degree outlook shows significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals. In this critical decade of action, the international community must look to this trend as a source of inspiration to go further,” he concluded.

The 10.3 per cent rise in installed capacity represents expansion that beats long-term trends of more modest growth year on year. At the end of 2020, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 2 799 GW with hydropower still accounting for the largest share (1 211 GW) although solar and wind are catching up fast. The two variable sources of renewables dominated capacity expansion in 2020 with 127 GW and 111 GW of new installations for solar and wind respectively.

China and the United States of America were the two outstanding growth markets from 2020. China, already the world’s largest market for renewables added 136 GW last year with the bulk coming from 72 GW of wind and 49 GW of solar.  The United States of America installed 29 GW of renewables last year, nearly 80 per cent more than in 2019, including 15 GW of solar and around 14 GW of wind. Africa continued to expand steadily with an increase of 2.6 GW, slightly more than in 2019, while Oceania remained the fastest growing region (+18.4%), although its share of global capacity is small and almost all expansion occurred in Australia.

Highlights by technology:

Hydropower: Growth in hydro recovered in 2020, with the commissioning of several large projects delayed in 2019. China added 12 GW of capacity, followed by Turkey with 2.5 GW.

Wind energy: Wind expansion almost doubled in 2020 compared to 2019 (111 GW compared to 58 GW last year). China added 72 GW of new capacity, followed by the United States of America (14 GW). Ten other countries increased wind capacity by more than 1 GW in 2020. Offshore wind increased to reach around 5% of total wind capacity in 2020.

Solar energy: Total solar capacity has now reached about the same level as wind capacity thanks largely to expansion in Asia (78 GW) in 2020. Major capacity increases in China (49 GW) and Viet Nam (11 GW). Japan also added over 5 GW and India and Republic of Korea both expanded solar capacity by more than 4 GW. The United States of America added 15 GW.

Bioenergy: Net capacity expansion fell by half in 2020 (2.5 GW compared to 6.4 GW in 2019). Bioenergy capacity in China expanded by over 2 GW. Europe the only other region with significant expansion in 2020, adding 1.2 GW of bioenergy capacity, a similar to 2019.

Geothermal energy: Very little capacity added in 2020. Turkey increased capacity by 99 MW and small expansions occurred in New Zealand, the United States of America and Italy.

Off-grid electricity: Off-grid capacity grew by 365 MW in 2020 (2%) to reach 10.6 GW. Solar expanded by 250 MW to reach 4.3 GW and hydro remained almost unchanged at about 1.8 GW.

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Renewable energy access key to climate adaptation in Africa

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Support for climate adaptation in Africa is crucial, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday in appealing for greater action to provide renewable energy to hundreds of millions who still lack access to reliable and affordable electricity.

“As the continent that has contributed least to the climate crisis, Africa deserves the strongest possible support and solidarity”, he told an online dialogue for leaders convened by the African Development Bank.

Mr. Guterres warned that “adaptation must not be the neglected half of the climate equation”.

Old models failing

Although Africa has abundant and untapped renewable resources, it has received just two per cent of global investment in renewable energy over the past decade, he reported.

Old models of development and energy use have failed to provide Africans with universal energy access, he said, meaning hundreds of millions of people still lack reliable and affordable electricity or are cooking with polluting and harmful fuels.

“We can provide universal access to energy in Africa primarily through renewable energy. I call for a comprehensive package of support to meet this objective ahead of COP26,” Mr. Guterres said, referring to the UN climate change conference in November.

“It is achievable. It is necessary. It is overdue. And it is smart: climate action is a $3 trillion investment opportunity in Africa by 2030,” he added.

‘Major finance gap’

However, the Secretary-General pointed to “the major finance” gap blocking progress towards this goal. He urged developed countries to deliver on their $100 billion climate commitment made over a decade ago.

“Developed countries and main financers must ensure a swift shift of the billions to support African green investments, to increase resilience and to create the conditions for scaled-up private finance”, he said.

“And the private sector must step up and get organized to provide immediate, concrete solutions to governments. Local authorities can work with unions and community leaders on reskilling and social security nets.”

Commitment and fiscal autonomy

While African Governments also can lead the way by committing to ambitious adaptation and mitigation plans, they first need to regain their fiscal autonomy, he said.

The Secretary-General stressed the need to extend the debt moratorium for developing countries, made last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and even cancelling debts where appropriate.

Furthermore, Special Drawing Rights, a type of supplementary foreign reserve maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), must also be made available to support Africa’s recovery.

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How Renewables Offer New Solutions for District Heating and Cooling

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Heating is the largest end user of energy, accounting for over 50% of global final energy consumption worldwide. At present, much of this demand is met by burning fossil fuels, making the sector a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Renewables can play a significant role in decarbonising the way we heat homes and businesses.

Traditionally, biofuels have been the main alternative to fossil fuels in district heating and cooling. However recent improvements in building insulation and digitalisation have opened district energy to widely accessible, low-temperature renewables such as low-temperature geothermal, solar thermal and waste heat sources.

These sources are widely available in many regions. Yet, they remain largely untapped because they are not immediately compatible with current district energy infrastructure and existing building stock according to IRENA’s “Integrating Low-Temperature Renewables in District Energy Systems” published in collaboration with Aalborg university, Denmark.

Speaking during a recent workshop to launch the report, Miklos Antics, the President of the European Geothermal Energy Council, said more than 25% of the EU population lives in areas directly suitable for geothermal district heating.

The workshop was held under the framework of the Energy Solutions for Cities of the Future and under the umbrella of the Global Geothermal Alliance, with a focus on China with the support of the Chinese Renewable Energy Engineering Institute (CREEI). “District heating is of utmost importance to achieve decarbonised energy systems in China by 2060,” said Professor Brian Vad Mathiesen from Aalborg University.

For his part, Haukur Hardarsson, Chairman and Founder of Arctic Green Energy, highlighted the fact that Sinopec Green Energy connected about 60 million square meters of floor area to geothermal district heating systems, saving the country and the world close to 13 million tons of CO2 over the last decade – showing the environmental value of geothermal energy for heating and cooling.

IRENA’s analysis shares good practices from mature district heating and cooling markets with emerging markets and shows that a lack of data and a disconnect with building renovation strategies at the municipality level is holding back further integration of low-temperature renewables.

To overcome the challenges associated with the integration of low-temperature renewables into district heating and cooling, the report offers the following key recommendations:

  • Develop strategic heating and cooling plans based on clear political drivers and identify relevant stakeholders;
  • Elaborate technical scenarios based on heating and/or cooling demand and mapping of resources;
  • Integrate change of supply, modernization of the network and building renovations;
  • Promote the utilisation of locally available renewables for heating and cooling;
  • Establish enabling regulatory conditions, supportive financing options and business models
  • According to the report, heating and cooling challenges, such as issues with current energy supply, should be addressed in a co-ordinated and informed manner and with a long-term perspective.
  • “Development of district heating and cooling systems, particularly those that are compatible with low-temperature renewable energy resources, is one way to integrate more renewables in the heating and cooling sector. However, this requires a collaborative effort from all relevant stakeholders, to address the inherent challenges,” said IRENA’s Director of Country Engagement and Partnerships Gurbuz Gonul during the workshop.
  • “If action is taken, renewables can constitute up to 77% of the energy supplied to district heating energy systems by 2050, up from only 8% in 2017,” he added.
  • The high upfront capital costs associated with the construction and refurbishment of the building stock as well as of the district heating and cooling network are substantial and it can take a decade or longer before any profits are realised, according to the report. This makes these projects a good match for investors seeking long-term revenue streams rather than quick returns.
  • The report also highlights the role of national and local authorities in strategic planning for heating and cooling and supporting district energy operators by de-risking investments and facilitating access to direct funding from the public sector. Project developers can also benefit from technical assistance programmes that assess the viability of projects, support the development of district energy infrastructure in new markets, and evaluate renewable energy supply options.

To read the full report, click here.

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