Notes by Narsi
Almost half a dozen startups in the Li-ion battery recycling domain had approached me in the past three years asking me for suggestions as a mentor.
Most of these startups are run by fairly young folks (less than 30 years old), are from engineering backgrounds with a couple of years work experience in diverse fields.
This made me do a reasonable amount of evaluation of the potential for Li-ion recycling in India.
At first sight, it appears that it might be too early for those seeking attractive and large market sizes. After all, electric vehicles form a pretty small percentage of the overall vehicle sales and is expected to show a significant acceleration only by about 2025. As Li-ion batteries can work well for 5-7 years in electric vehicles, one can expect large scale recycling opportunities only perhaps starting 2030.
The above was my reasoning in the initial stages of my thinking.
But I realized that I may not be entirely correct in this. While the large scale market for depleted batteries might be available only by about 2030, the time for these companies to start could indeed be now.
The following are the reasons:
1. It takes time to develop a supply chain for the used batteries
2. It takes time to build and stabilize the recycling technology. Li-ion battery recycling tech is a fairly recent development compared to that for lead acid batteries
3. It takes time to build effective business models. It should be noted that while the business and revenue model for recycling in itself might not be complex, startups can also build business models around batteries in the form of second life batteries (where Li-ion batteries unusable for electric vehicles can be used in stationary applications), and other interesting business and revenue models could be explored. All these need time to create and evolve.
Given all the above, the time to back startups in Li-in recycling might be now. Waiting for the EV market to develop before jumping in could be a costly wait, especially as some of the leaders in e-waste recycling such as Attero Recycling are already making aggressive moves into Li-ion batteries segment.