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Picture Credit: Dall.E.2

The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) launched the long-awaited Battery Passport at Davos with great fanfare. The result of prolonged efforts by many companies and participants throughout the value chain. The initiative, whilst commendable, has some potential inherent shortcomings that need to be challenged and aired.

Any passport is a record of information. It allows the bearer to travel and go through borders. Crucially, it needs passport controllers to review for validity. Just like a personal passport needs to be updated and renewed, a battery passport may become redundant if not checked, updated, and deployed in real life traceability efforts at scale. Passport controls are needed to fully capture the utility of Battery Passports.

As with any pilot, the Battery Passport leaves much to be determined, including crucially a question mark on where the data is going to be held and stored – as clarified in the post launch Q&A by the answer that “these rules are in fact still being written” – 27 mins.

While there is little doubt that “the battery passport is a perfect example of the magic that can happen at the World Economic Forum” (post launch Q&A – 6 minutes), end of life supply chain events on change of ownership are propelled by economic incentives. Economic incentives which may not be truly represented by those gathered at Davos.

It is the formation of incentives – of waste being viewed as a potential source of profit, which which will determine the sustainability of the end-of-life battery market. The interoperability that was highlighted in the launch event may boil down to sent invoices as the true enabler of circular flows and traceability.

A review of the disclaimers # 1-6 in the GBA pilot document shows that several caveats remain in the actual implementation. In particular, the point on “realistic data” (page 4).

“To avoid lengthy legal discussions and negotiation of dedicated agreements, the pilot participants agreed with the GBA to share realistic data instead of real data. ‘Realistic’ data allows for small adjustments to any individual data set which may risk unintended legal consequences.”

The GBA and its members should be commended for their openness in addressing potential flaws, the importance of transparency and integrity in the battery space is paramount.

The use of ‘commercial sensitivity’ is a convenient obstruction to place in the way of the light of the new dawn of circular battery flows.

Thank you for reading – for more information on what Cling is building, please do get in touch.

N.B. this post was not aided by Chat GPT although we aren’t against it and like to be open to progress and new approaches in nascent markets – the picture is, however, from DALL-E

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