According to the National Determined Contributions, Nigeria’s solar PV target is projected to contribute 30% of 30,000 MW in 10 years, this would require an estimated 12 million batteries initially and 24 million solar panels. With an average lifespan of 4 years for Led Acid Batteries and 10 years for Lithium, compared to 20-25 years lifespan of the PV panels, the renewable energy sector will need to worry about the economic and environmental sustainability of the sector over the next 25 years.
The Federal Ministry of Power through its Implementing agencies and partners like the Rural Electrification Agency and GIZ are executing large solar energy projects, mini-grid projects and has signed agreements to generate up to 2000 MW by end of 2020. This means about 2.6 million batteries or 52,000 tons of batteries will be needed for solar projects in the next 1 or 2 years. When added to batteries from small home systems, telecom backup systems, solar street lights and private independent projects nationwide, state governments and the Energy Commission of Nigeria, the scale of the challenge and opportunities in sustaining the sector becomes clearer.
With the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Nigeria could be losing $1billion in economic value over the next 2 years from imports of renewable energy components. Investment in solar panel and battery production facilities will create jobs, expand technology base and support an energy industry for the 21st century industrial revolution.
The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has adopted the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework for the sound management of waste streams in Nigeria. For the battery sector, NESREA has licensed a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) to ensure shared responsibility in end-of-life management of used batteries for those operating as battery producers, recyclers and collectors.
In line with the NESREA Regulations and Guidelines, a group of battery stakeholders including the Waste Battery Recyclers Association of Nigeria (WBRAN), Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN), Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of Nigeria (REDIN), Battery Dealers Association, environmental consultants and battery consumers proposed and formed the Alliance for Responsible Battery Recycling (ARBR). These associations and member organisations were “considered to be significantly representative of the sector which produce, install and recycle batteries in the Nigerian market”.
In order to make significant impact, the renewable energy sector must set a “zero pollution” policy for managing used batteries and spent solar panels. The renewable energy sector acclaimed as green and clean must take the lead in implementing take-back schemes and recycling programmes to effectively document, collect and deliver used materials for sound disposal to clean recyclers. The target is to ensure that all energy storage batteries installed with Solar PV panels are 100% recovered at their end-of-life, recycled through licensed and clean processes to prevent hazardous pollution and produce quality energy storage batteries and solar PV panels in Nigeria.
WHY A NATIONAL PROGRAMME IS IMPORTANT
To safeguard the reputation of the renewable energy sector in Nigeria, a Battery Stewardship Programme for battery producers, renewable energy operators and recyclers must be adopted and supported for entire battery lifecycle management to ensure compliance, control and sustainability.
Batteries contain toxic heavy metals and it is dangerous to dispose of them wrongly. By ensuring that your batteries are properly collected and recycled, you can keep in compliance with current environmental regulations, manage your waste stream properly, and limit your exposure to liability.
Experience in other jurisdictions shows a centralized national scheme is more successful in creating consistent processes necessary for a safe and effective recovery process. It also means recovery is focused not only batteries with a high resource recovery value (lead acid), but also problematic batteries such as lithium. A national approach will create a level playing field and will be easier to navigate, report and show success. A well designed national scheme can also foster industry development in the battery recycling and production sector, rather than creating a race to the bottom as has occurred in Nigeria already.
Chain of Responsibility
Government has a responsibility to enact and enforce laws and regulations that ensure all individuals and organisations in the supply chain share in the stewardship process. It also means driving policies that support local content and local production of components for the sector. Importantly, it also means leading by example by patronizing only responsible organisations under the EPR programme and buying batteries with proven long lifespan with easy recyclability.
2. Donor Partners and Implementation Agencies
Donor partners, financial institutions and implementing agencies are playing an important role and helping the adoption of renewable energy in Nigeria. Currently, the World Bank and the African Development bank have provided over $500 million to the Rural Electrification Agency for solar powered projects, while the European Union and German Government under the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP) have provided €33 million for mini grid development. These partners and agencies must strengthen their framework for a battery stewardship programme and adopt clean processes for battery management, while also contributing towards local research in energy storage technologies.
Renewable Energy Operators have a crucial role to play in successfully implementing a used battery and spent panel take-back scheme. As part of a stewardship programme operators will ensure regular data is provided on batteries installed, location of installations, quantity of batteries installed, types of batteries installed and a commitment to retrieve spent batteries and panels for proper recycling.
4. Battery Producers
Battery producers must ensure batteries are manufactured to best global standards, implementing good design and labelling in order for their purpose to be clear, for consumers to know how to recycle them and for collectors and recyclers to know what they contain so they can be disassembled safely.
Stewardship for consumers of batteries means taking care to purchase rechargeable and recyclable batteries using them safely according to instructions, taking care not to damage them during use, keeping them out of reach of children. Stewardship for consumers of batteries also means taking care to dispose of batteries safely and responsibly, preferably to a licensed local collector or recycler.
6. Used Battery Recyclers
Used battery recyclers must participate in stewardship schemes, adhering to environmental standards, benchmark assessments, protecting workers health and adopting clean battery recycling technologies.
Director and Executive Secretary of the Alliance for Responsible Battery Recycling (ARBR).