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EGEB: Li-Cycle will build North America’s largest Li-ion battery recycling plant

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The Canadian firm Li-Cycle will construct a $175 million Li-ion battery recycling plant in New York.
  • Vietnam sees a rooftop solar boom in 2020.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Li-ion battery recycling

The Ontario, Canada-based lithium-ion battery recycling company Li-Cycle will build the largest Li-ion battery-recycling plant in North America. The $175 million plant in Rochester, New York, will be on the site of what was the Eastman Kodak complex and will create 100 new jobs. Li-Cycle plans to begin construction on the facility in 2021.

IEEE Spectrum writes:

The plant will have an eventual capacity of 25 metric kilotons of input material, recovering 95% or more of the cobalt, nickel, lithium, and other valuable elements through the company’s zero-wastewater, zero-emissions process.

Ajay Kochhar, Li-Cycle’s cofounder and CEO, says:

We’ll be one of the largest domestic sources of nickel and lithium, as well as the only source of cobalt in the United States.

As lithium-ion battery production rapidly grows – global EV sales are expected to climb from 1.7 million in 2020 to 26 million in 2030 – Li-ion battery recycling becomes a growing priority. Of the 180,000 metric tons of Li-ion batteries available for recycling worldwide in 2019, just a little over half were recycled. Li-ion battery recycling mostly takes place in China and South Korea, but there are a couple dozen startups in North America and Europe and more are in the works.

Jeff Spangenberger, director of the ReCell Center, a battery-recycling research collaboration supported by the US Department of Energy, says:

Recycling batteries is better than if we mine new materials and throw the batteries away.

But recycling companies have trouble making profits. We need to make it cost effective, so that people have an incentive to bring their batteries back.

The new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on the North American auto industry has a 2030 requirement of 75% locally produced content, and use of recycled battery materials could help North American EV manufacturers achieve that. Tim Johnston at Li-Cycle writes:

This North American recycling solution could be a game changer for the regional EV industry as it helps the environment by removing waste materials and also assists North American companies meet USMCA’s regulations.

Vietnam’s rooftop solar boom

Vietnam saw a huge leap in rooftop solar installations in 2020. More than 9GW of solar were installed ahead of an installation deadline for feed-in tariffs (FIT).

State-owned Vietnam Electricity (EVN) stated that the FIT deadline won’t be extended, thus resulting in a big surge in installations in December 2020 in order to meet the end-of-year FIT deadline.

According to PV Tech, rooftop solar installations in Vietnam grew by 2,435% in 2020, compared to 2019. They grew from a 2019 base of 378 MWp to 9.583 GWp across almost 102,000 systems.

The Southeast Asian country is working on other policies to incentivize green energy, such as a Direct Power Purchase Agreement program for businesses, and solar auctions for direct sale of electricity to EVN.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.