Transparency-boosting Battery Passport proof-of-concept launched at Davos

18th January 2023 By: Donna Slater - Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

Multistakeholder organisation the Global Battery Alliance (GBA) launched a proof-of-concept for its Battery Passport at the World Economic Forum’s yearly meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on January 18.

With the aim of establishing a sustainable battery value chain by 2030, the GBA’s Battery Passport is proposed as key to facilitating the rapid scaling of sustainable, circular and responsible battery value chains to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement through electrification of the transport and power sectors.

The Battery Passport is the GBA’s flagship initiative, establishing a digital twin of a physical battery that conveys information about all applicable sustainability and lifecycle requirements based on a comprehensive definition of a sustainable battery.

The initiative aims to bring new levels of transparency to the global battery value chain by collecting, exchanging, collating and reporting trusted data among all lifecycle stakeholders on the material provenance, the battery’s chemical make-up and manufacturing history and its sustainability performance.

Publicly available on the GBA’s website, the prototype battery passports include example data from automotive manufacturers Audi and Tesla and their value chain partners relating to the battery’s technical specifications and material provenance.

There is also reporting against key sustainability performance indicators, including partial reporting of the battery’s carbon footprint, and child labour and human rights performance. These are developed according to rulebooks developed by members of the GBA for select materials, as well as information on the data collection across different steps of the value chains.

The GBA says its Battery Passport is unique, as it is a key instrument to implement a global vision of sustainable, responsible and circular battery value chains, based on data that is standardised, comparable and auditable.

The passport’s ultimate goal is to provide end-users with a quality seal based on the battery’s sustainability performance, according to reporting rules agreed by stakeholders from industry, academia, nongovernmental organisations and government.

The concept of a Battery Passport was endorsed during the 2021 Group of Seven Leaders’ Meeting, in the European Union (EU) Battery Regulations and by the Canadian and US administrations.

A Battery Passport will become a mandatory requirement in the EU by 2026, with other regions likely to follow.

Germany Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Dr Robert Habeck says the Battery Passport is a pivotal embodiment of the digital and green “twin transition” – using the digital world to facilitate the decarbonisation of the real world and to promote circularity.

“We believe global progress in green technologies is most efficient when we rely on globally compatible standards and a level playing field to minimise frictions between different markets in the industries we need to transform,” he adds.

It has been developed over three years by GBA members, which span the global battery value chain from the mine to recycling, including companies such as Audi, BASF, CATL, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), Glencore, LG Energy Solution, Umicore, Tesla, Volkswagen and information technology solution providers.

It also includes nongovernmental and international organisations such as IndustriALL Global Union, Pact, Transport & Environment, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the United Nations Children's Fund and many others.

It is also supported by government institutions such as the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, and Natural Resources Canada.

The GBA explains that batteries are the key to unlocking the energy transition, but that batteries are also material- and resource-intensive with inevitable social and environmental impacts throughout the value chain.

This includes greenhouse-gas emissions being produced during battery material sourcing, processing and manufacturing, as well as issues of child labour and human rights violations.

Bringing transparency to battery value chains through the introduction of the Battery Passport is a critical step towards establishing sustainable battery value chains in a rapidly growing industry, the GBA states.

GBA founding member and co-chairperson and ERG CEO Benedikt Sobotka says the launch of the Battery Passport proof-of-concept is a major milestone on the road to creating a truly verifiable digital twin of a battery.

“The GBA’s Battery Passport is the first and only passport to be developed by stakeholders spanning the entire battery value chain, making it the standard bearer for battery transparency.

“Our attention will now turn to benchmarking Battery Passport data and issuing quality seals based on sustainability performance to provide a trusted source of data to end consumers, guiding purchasing decisions and triggering improvement actions across the value chain,” he says.

Following the successful launch of the proof of concept, the GBA will continue evolving the battery passport architecture, including the development of a comprehensive and streamlined indicator framework.