By Obas Esiedesa
With renewable energy sources playing increasing role in Nigeriaa��s energy mix, stakeholders in the sector have called for better management of Used Lead-Acid Batteries (ULABs)
Approximately 110,000 tons of ULABs are generated in Nigeria annually from the automotive and renewable energy sectors with only 13 percent of this amount recycled, mostly in informal shelters located in residential areas which leads to high cases of lead pollution.
The stakeholders spoke at a workshop, on how to properly manage used lead-acid batteries which are used for energy storage, organized by Clean Technology Hub, partnership with the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) and with the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.
The workshop which was attended by renewable energy companies, recycling companies, sustainable development-focused non-governmental organizations and policymakers was aimed at addressing the growing issue of poor management of used lead-acid batteries which has harmful effects on the environment and public health.
Speaking at the opening, the Chief Executive Officer of Clean Technology Hub, Ifeoma Malo, said there was a need to create a framework for the management of batteries in light of the growing role of the renewable energy sector in the country.
According to her, a�?There is a mini-grid revolution about to take off in Nigeria, such as the World Bank and the Rural Electrification Agency $350 million project as well as other investments into the sector. This means that there will be more batteries.
a�?As such, it is imperative for the sector to create a battery management framework that will feed into government policy on used battery disposal, create investment opportunities and tackle a growing problem before it gets severea�?.
Also speaking, Mr. Terseer Ugboh of the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of Nigeria (REDIN), a clean energy-focused non-governmental organisation said that the issue of ULAB management has been their focus for the past four years with several workshops and trainings on how to decide the best possible ways for its management in Nigeria.
He noted that although the current focus is on secondary batteries which are rechargeable such as lead-acid batteries, they hope to extend the focus to primary batteries such as alkaline batteries, mercury batteries and zinc-carbon batteries.
a�?In the course of our work, we have decided to champion an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program in Nigeria to set the template for how renewable energy companies and other companies across the country including importers of batteries and recyclers should manage used batteries. It will work with international best practices using the standard benchmarks accepted globally,a�? he added.
On his part, Dr. Gilbert Adie, an expert on used-battery management, added that proper management of ULABs can create investment opportunities with the price of lead globally going for as high as $2200 per ton.
He also suggested a benchmark assessment tool for ULAB management with focus on areas such as assessing best practices for the collection of ULABs and ensuring battery recycling plants are located only in industrial areas.
There is currently only one recognized battery recycling facility in Nigeria run by Ibeto Group and based in Nnewi, Anambra State.
There is also no specific policy for battery recycling in Nigeria at the moment. However, guidelines such as the National Environmental Base Metals, Iron and Steel Manufacturing and Recycling Regulation (2011), National Environmental Vehicle and Miscellaneous Assembly Regulations (2012) are applicable to ULAB management.