• Policy and Regulation
  • Battery Electric Vehicles
  • Battery Manufacturers
  • Battery Energy Storage

Regulators Must Keep Up with Evolving Battery Technology

Jul 02, 2021

EVs 5

As the transportation industry evolves to focus on electrification, more attention is being paid to regulating several deployments of advanced batteries in various applications. With advanced battery technology developing at a rapid pace, regulators need to keep up with constantly evolving technology to keep safety a top priority. Stakeholders are looking beyond fire risks to cover safety topics such as manufacturing, disposal, and the cybersecurity of battery systems.  

Stakeholders Are Taking a Holistic Approach to Battery Safety 

In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated it would be doubling down on the efforts within its Battery Safety Initiative. This initiative includes collecting data and investigating EV fire incidents with more detail and a focus on battery diagnostics, battery management systems, and cybersecurity issues. Governing bodies and independent institutions are also focusing on battery manufacturing, use, and disposal. The Faraday Institution, an independent research institute in the UK that focuses on electrochemical energy storage, announced in 2021 that they would use $31.7 million of funding to further research the safety and development of EV batteries. This includes extending battery life and battery recycling, among other topics. In terms of cybersecurity, grid-connected energy storage systems can be vulnerable to cyberattacks and security threats. Disarming systems potentially causes a significant grid failure, affecting all those who depend on it. Leading practices usually include multiple layers of security features built into the energy storage systems, software audits, and limited physical access. 

How to Keep Up with Safety Needs and Priorities

Regulatory agencies have an important role in maintaining safe practices within the battery industry. They also have the ear of the public and oversight abilities regarding the manufacturing, use, and disposal of advanced batteries. Regulators face the dual challenge of needing to keep up with the rapid development and use of new battery technologies and applications and needing to reconcile that pace with the often slow and bureaucratic process of setting up new regulations and standards for the industry. Still, it’s important to know how to keep pace with new developments and stay in front of new safety-related concerns as they arise:

  • Data Collection: Collecting as much necessary data as possible to have a comprehensive study ready when it’s time to make a decision is the first step. Data should include not just information on fire incidents but a holistic collection of data concerning battery design, market applications, and disposal methods and practices. 
  • Stakeholder Transparency: Regulators should also insist on transparency from OEMs and integrators to collect needed data. Often, private companies are hesitant to share data on their products and operations at the risk of giving away proprietary information; however, open communication can be critical when dealing with safety issues such as cybersecurity.
  • Sustainability: Lastly, policymakers can encourage battery-solutions suppliers to recycle and reuse their batteries by providing incentives when waste is reduced or when designs are put in place that help facilitate waste reduction. This will lessen initial cost barriers related to repurposing batteries until it becomes an industry standard.