Vector's new energy futures paper; leading the shift to a circular economy

Innovation Sustainability

Read Vector’s New Energy Futures Paper on batteries and the circular economy

Lithium-ion batteries power a huge range of appliances from toys to watches, cameras, phones, e-scooters and energy storage.  At Vector, we are collaborating across sectors to focus on large batteries: batteries that are found in electric vehicles or in stationary energy storage. 

As more of us become electric vehicle (EV) owners and as we shift to a low-carbon future - where the use of energy storage units alongside solar panels becomes more popular - an important question to consider is what happens to these batteries at end of use, or end of life. 
Mobile technology and a low-carbon future are unthinkable without batteries, a core technological enabler of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

World Economic Forum Global Battery Alliance

Modelling commissioned by Vector suggests that there could be between 500 and 1,000 EV batteries coming to the end of life by 2020, rising to up to 17,000 by 2025 and up to 84,000 by 2030. With these increases there are a range of important issues that need to be tackled including:

  • Are there second and third life opportunities for large batteries?
  • How can we safely handle, store and transport used large batteries?
  • Can we have cost-effective on-shore end-of-life solutions in New Zealand?
  • How can we keep resources cycling so we don’t have to extract more?
Introducing the Battery Industry Group (B.I.G)

The Battery Industry Group (B.I.G) is a collaboration of organisations from across energy, transport and waste industries with large lithium-ion batteries in their value chain. Based on 18 months’ research, B.I.G. is working together to answer these questions and design reuse and responsible end-of-life solutions for large batteries.

Why is it important to take this action now? 

We have a window of opportunity to front-foot this E-waste challenge. While large batteries are key to powering our new energy future, they come at a significant environmental and social cost. Modern economies today are based on a linear economy model which involves taking natural resources from the ground, making products and then disposing of them into landfill (or recycling, which, let’s face it, is usually downcycling). With limited natural resources, significant ethical supply chain risks and an increasing global demand, this linear approach is simply not sustainable for large batteries. Instead, Vector is leading the shift to a circular economy: one which keeps products and materials in use and allows for the regeneration of natural systems.

The New Energy Futures Paper is the culmination of research commissioned by Vector and carried out by Eunomia, Forum for the Future and Thinkstep with input from the Batteries Leaders Group and many industry bodies. The Battery Leaders Group now forms the basis of the wider Battery Industry Group (B.I.G.) and its three working groups: the Safety & Logistics Group, the Battery Innovation Hub, and the Battery User Group

Read the full paper

See the technical addendum here

Interested parties are welcome to join. For more information, please visit or join the conversation on Twitter: @Batteryloop #batterykarma #batterycycle

Did you know?

look around

In 2016 alone the world generated 44.7 million metric tonnes of E-waste, equal in weight to almost 4,500 Eiffel Towers*.


Electric vechicle batteries that are no longer fit for purpose in electric vehicles still have approximately 80% of their battery storage capacity left.


Large batteries from electric vehicles or stationary storage can be given a second or third life in household or industrial uses… even in boats! 

*Global E-waste monitor 2017