|Hyundai Motor Group's energy storage system at its Ulsan plant. / Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group|
By Baek Byung-yeul
The rising sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are leading to growing calls to establish a full ecosystem for them including the introduction of renting, charging, reuse and recycling of battery packs, industry analysts noted Friday.
Around 120,000 EVs have been sold in Korea as of August, 2020, according to the Korea Automotive Technology Institute, which also warned that used battery packs equivalent to those used in 10,000 EVs will start to pile up at junkyards starting from 2026, creating a serious waste problem.
By 2030, the number of used battery packs is expected to rise to 100,000.
The estimated lifespan of an EV battery is around 10 years, which is when capacity starts to drop below 70 percent; but this offers an opportunity for other companies seeking to enter the battery value chain business.
The government is encouraging firms to make the jump into battery recycling and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy recently kicked off a research project on the reuse of EV battery packs and energy storage systems (ESSs). The ministry will also grant regulatory exemptions to companies reusing batteries.
Hyundai Motor Group recently said it will build a 2-megawatt-hour ESS using spent EV batteries at its solar power plant in Ulsan.
The group will also construct a 3-gigawatt-hour ESS, which will be the world's largest. One gigawatt of energy is sufficient to power around 300,000 homes.
LG Energy Solution, a wholly-owned subsidiary of LG Chem, will also expand into the battery value chain business, ranging from renting out, charging and reusing EV batteries.
SK Innovation said Thursday that it had acquired a 13.3 percent stake in Blue Park Smart Energy Technology, a Beijing-based business that sells recharged batteries that can be swapped between EVs.