UPS/standby power/batteries

  • Batteries - A positive charge forwards

    As the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive completes its first year of implementation in the UK with criticism levelled at the way it was implemented - the Batteries Directive waits in the wings, ready for its introduction later this year. Here Vince Armitage, divisional vice-president, Varta Consumer Batteries UK (right), introduces the new directive and highlights what is happening in other European countries, while outlining how the experiences of WEEE could help make the Batteries Directive a success in the UK and across Europe

    With less than 100 days until the proposed implementation, it seems the Batteries Directive is still below the radar of the majority of UK manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
    With parallels between the two pieces of legislation, it was expected that experiences of WEEE would be utilised to ensure a smooth roll-out of the Batteries Directive.

    For the uninitiated, the Batteries Directive was actually transposed into the EU in 1991, restricting the use of mercury in most batteries. The directive also encouraged collection and recycling but, nearly 20 years after its introduction, the objectives of this legislation were not being achieved and portable batteries were still being disposed of in landfill. Therefore, a new Batteries Directive will come into force across Europe on 26 September 2008, replacing the existing piece of legislation, although no UK implementation date has been announced as yet.

    Affecting all batteries placed on the market after 25 September 2008, the directive brings many key changes including a ban on most NiCad-batteries,   excluding items such as power tools and emergency lighting. The legislation also brings the requirement that all batteries must carry a symbol of a ‘crossed-out dustbin' indicating that the end of life material should not be simply thrown away. 

    European-wide recycling targets have also been laid out, with 25 per cent of portable batteries having to be recycled by 2010, rising to 45 per cent by 2016. This is positive news and with improvements in recycling processes and techniques, it now means that almost 90 per cent of all batteries collected (by weight) can be recycled into useful by-products.
    So what is the current status of the directive across Europe? As already mentioned, the UK is making positive steps towards implementation although no clear date has been outlined for the directive to be transposed into the UK legal framework. In other European countries, there is also still work to be done. France, for example, is labouring over a number of key issues which are holding up its adoption of the directive. The French are also out of kilter with the rest of the EU in proposing the incorporation of a ‘stealth fee' into the pricing of batteries to cover the cost of collecting and recycling.

    The directive becoming law in Italy has been held up by governmental elections but the Italians envisage that this will be resolved by November. Another problem the Italians might face is the fact they have a very small number of recycling facilities in the country. This might mean a stockpile of end of life units is created, especially if the directive tightens rules about shipping waste across borders.

    Romania expects the implementation in their country to be late. Like Italy, they are going through changes in government and are still discussing the implementation of the directive. Interestingly, the Swiss, even though they are not actually part of the EU and have no obligation to transpose the Batteries Directive, will still adopt the major points of the Directive into their legislative framework. It is thought that this adoption will not happen until mid 2009 at the earliest.

    For other European countries, it's full steam ahead with some nations wanting to go as far as increasing the 2010 and 2016 recycling targets set out in the directive. Leading the pack is Belgium which is already achieving its targeted recycling rates and collection. This success is being achieved through a network of 20,000 collection points in schools, supermarkets, petrol stations, retail outlets and civic amenity sites which serves a population of 10 million people.

    While its success cannot be questioned, the Belgium system does come at a cost and is the most expensive recycling model in Europe. It's envisaged that the average recycling cost across the continent will be 3.9 pence per battery; in Belgium it is currently more than two and a half times that at 9.9 pence. Such a high toll may deter other nations from following the Belgian system.

    The Netherlands - seen as environmental visionaries and often two steps ahead of the rest of Europe when it comes to environmental legislation and the fore-fathers of the WEEE Directive - are, as one might expect, already up and running. Elsewhere, the Germans and Norwegians are also calling for the targets laid out in the directive to be raised even further for their respective countries.

    While both are geared up to meet the introduction of the directive, both are calling for tougher targets. Germany wants the first recycling target to be raised from 25% to 35%, while Norway wants to see the targets in later years increased to 60% in 2012 and 70% by 2016.

    Meanwhile, Spain is the only country, so far, to fully ratify the directive, while Turkey is in the position of having no producers, only importers. Finally, Finland, Hungry and Poland complete a mixed bag of status, with all three nations reporting few problems ahead of implementation and all expect things to roll out on time.

    So what have WEEE learnt?
    It must be said that it is unusual for wide reaching environmental legislation, such as the Batteries Directive and WEEE, to come into force so close together. Therefore the introduction of WEEE has been watched intently by the battery industry, keen to learn and capitalise on the experiences of the sector and those WEEE-obligated companies. But with the clock ticking until the implementation deadline, it seems that perhaps a number of lessons have not yet been taken on board.

    One of the main frustrations levelled at the WEEE Directive has been around a lack of communication. Of course, with any new directive there will be an amount of confusion and areas which need further clarification. So far, it looks as if history might be repeating itself as information and clarification for those obligated by the new regulations has been poor. Organisations need more help in understanding how they can play their part. Nobody likes change but if they are guided and armed with the facts then the process is much easier with greater buy-in. This can be simply achieved by better communication around the directive, both for those organisations obligated and the end-users.

    Other parts of the directive still need to be confirmed with uncertainty still around a number of other significant areas. The definition of producer is still to be fully defined, with the industry calling for further clarification around whom and what is classed as a producer. Much like the WEEE Directive, it is the producer - the party who places the batteries on the market - who is obligated under the directive. Although there is still some confusion around this topic - at present it's the manufacturer, importer of the product or private label owner which is considered a producer.

    This role applies whether they place it on the market directly themselves, or if products reach the market through a third party partner such as a wholesaler, OEM or retailer. The registration process for producers is still far from perfect and again, organisations are waiting for guidance to ensure they are complying correctly.
    Another parallel between the two directives is around the interpretation of the law. While the Batteries Directive is a Europe-wide law, there will be many interpretations of what it means at a local level. This is due to market variations and specific country laws and practices. This different 'in country' approach and interpretation could mean that results may well differ from nation to nation when it comes to measuring success. If local laws mean that the number of units in the market are recorded in different ways then results will be skewed, giving some nations an advantage over others when striving to achieve the recycling rates set out in the new directive.

    Grass roots inconsistency across countries might cause problems in the long run. It could dilute the effectiveness and impact of the directive, while causing confusion for organisations that operate across multiple European borders.

    Corralling the cowboys
    Another issue that it is hoped the Batteries Directive will help bring to the fore is the standard of quality and safety of the batteries being imported into the UK. Even though the majority of products being brought into the country do comply, there are some batteries that do not. These often come from the Far East, where legislation on composition and manufacturing are much less stringent resulting in inferior construction and harmful chemicals being used.  These batteries offer poor performance which is masked from consumers through cheap prices. This creates a false economy - a vicious circle which reinforces the current throw away mentality.

    End users are buying a product which will not deliver what they need but they will view this as the norm due to the cheaper price of the product. This means more poor batteries are bought and then discarded, left to leak their harmful toxins into the environment. It is hoped the Battery Directive will highlight this problem across the industry and those pedalling inferior products will be brought under control and eventually phased out. It is also hoped that end users will be educated about the benefits of buying better quality or better performing batteries. This alone would considerably reduce the levels of battery waste each year.

    With not long to go until the Europe-wide implementation date, there are a number of areas which still have to be firmed up but the industry is working towards this on a daily basis. For instance, the measurement of batteries placed on the market and, as a result, battery collection targets are two very important areas which have recently been clarified. These targets will now be set on the basis that each country will calculate the annual sales of portable batteries and accumulators distributed to end-users, as the weight of them, placed on the market, during that year. This method will of course exclude any that have been exported during that year.

    So, while some might look at the directive as more red tape and a burden, it should be viewed as a positive step. The majority of hard work has already been done and there are huge positives moving forward. Such directives give the industry and related sectors the opportunity to look at themselves and make positive changes. New laws should also be viewed by those organisations obligated by the changes as a chance to innovate and develop new products for the good of the end user.

    All we need is one more, final, concerted push by everyone concerned - whether it's those classed as producers, manufacturers, the legislators or the end-users - to make the directive as effective and successful as it can be. Roll on implementation!"

  • Batteries - Counting the cost of non-communication

    The UK is now fully immersed in the implementation of the Batteries Directive and, in December, the Government outlined its proposals in the final consultation document for how the directive will work in the UK. Its proposals left those obligated by the new legislation concerned that, without further thought and modification, the UK will not hit the stringent collection and recycling targets expected of it. Here Vince Armitage, divisional vice-president, Varta Consumer Batteries UK gives a brief overview of where the directive currently stands, how it will affect retailers in its current form and suggests areas for improvement.

    The Government completed its final consultation on the legislation in December 2008, a process which caused great concern amongst producers, retailers and wholesalers. While there are many facets to the directive and many areas of concern, I shall try to briefly outline the main points.

    The Government proposes the Batteries Directive is served by a network of competing compliance schemes, much in the same format as the WEEE Directive. This is something that goes against the wishes of the industry which believes that either one single scheme or a small number of schemes with an umbrella co-ordinating body is the way forward. When it comes to collection, the Government will allow the individual compliance schemes to specify their collection network and are unlikely to fund a comprehensive sustained national publicity campaign around the directive, leaving communication with the end-user primarily to the producers and the compliance schemes.

    The news the directive will be monitored and enforced in the UK by the Environment Agency, funded by producers to the tune of £650,000, has left many in the industry concerned given poor awareness of the WEEE Directive. This concern is further compounded by the fact that in the current plans laid out by the Government, there is very little transparency which shows how the money generated is being used.

    Cost of compliance is another area of contention. As it stands, all obligated producers will have to sign up to a compliance scheme but, if the producer places less than three tonnes of batteries on the market per year, then they will be exempt from paying towards the cost of collection. However, closer examination of the figures shows that the current threshold is set too low, meaning that out of 1,000 obligated producers, only 50 to 100 could be liable to pay any compliance scheme membership costs. The remaining small group of obligated producers could then face significant additional financial burdens in order to offset the non-obligated producers.

    This also presents questions around the differences in size between the obligated producers. Currently, producers that place more than three tonnes on the market per year, regardless of its precise tonnage or turnover figure, will have to pay to fund compliance. Therefore, an organisation that barely scrapes above the threshold will have to pay the same amount as a producer that places ten times as much on the market and has a significantly higher turnover. All of this added cost will have knock-on effects for everyone in the batteries supply chain, with one of the main consequences being a rise in the cost of batteries.

    The knock on effect for retailers
    With this added financial levy on producers, it stands to reason that, with the mounting cost of compliance for manufacturers and producers, many in the industry will look to recoup this cost through raising unit prices. As a result, retailers and wholesalers will see their margins squeezed as prices rise. To make-up the shortfall, wholesalers will be faced with having to raise their own prices to the buyer which will not only affect sales but will also have a detrimental effect on the success of the Batteries Directive.

    The reason being is that the end-user will look towards cheaper alternatives. In the battery sector this will mean cheaper, lower quality Far Eastern imported batteries. This defeats the purpose of the directive on two fronts. Firstly, those batteries will be poorly constructed which reduces their performance. In today's power hungry devices, it will mean that users will use more batteries to get the performance they require. This in turn will lead to more battery waste.

    While we are looking to change the buying habits of end-users to consider the environment, we may actually be changing their buying habits for the worst. Due to the current economic situation, cost is a big factor and therefore, increased batteries prices driven by the directive may create a mindset of cost before quality which, when the credit crunch ends, may be hard to reverse by all parties in the supply chain.

    The problem is further compounded due to the materials used to construct the casing of these batteries and the materials used inside. As the casing will not be as strong as those batteries which conform to the more stringent European Standards, these could cause even more environmental damage, nullifying the point of the directive.

    The fact the batteries are imported and often sold through market stalls or discount shops will also reduce the impact on the success of the directive. It is fair to assume that many of these retailers will not play an active role in ensuring that their buyers know about the directive and will not ensure dead units are collected and recycled. Also, as a lot of producers will be smaller manufacturers from the Far East, many will look to avoid any kind of contribution to the cost of compliance and the majority will not have the volume needed to become liable for the cost of compliance.

    Indeed, the collection of batteries is an area that still has to be resolved. In its consultation document, the Government has left it to individual compliance schemes to structure their own collection networks, which could mean compliance schemes may focus on the areas that offer the greatest volume of returned batteries, such as large urban areas, while remote and sparsely populated areas will be neglected. This will reduce efforts to hit the targets laid out in the directive. A better solution would be to follow the lead of other European countries and utilise the high footfall locations that consumers visit on a daily basis.

    Across Europe, collection points are centralised in retail outlets, post offices, supermarkets, petrol stations and even schools. This means little effort on the part of the consumer but also driving footfall to retailers, encouraging the replacement of like for like product.
     
    Shouting about it
    While the debates around cost, collection and compliance are important, if the aims of the directive are not communicated properly then it will simply fail. In spite of the criticism around the poor publicity of the WEEE Directive, it seems the Government is set to make the same mistakes again as it has not clearly stated that it will fund an ongoing national publicity campaign to educate the end-user about the directive.

    The problem will be made all the more difficult due to the proposed multiple compliance scheme structure. Multiple schemes will mean a dilution of the messages that reach the end-user. Each compliance scheme will have its own smaller PR and marketing campaigns, which will ultimately compete against each other for air time and column inches. As a result, the messages will reach a smaller cross-section of people and will not have the same impact as one universal campaign.

    A Government-supported campaign would mean that a strong and consistent voice is heard by the target audience. By pooling resources, a more impactful national campaign could be run, increasing awareness and driving success. National messages could then be broken down and shared at a regional and local level - ensuring more and more people are exposed to the directives and its aims.

    It must be remembered any directive will have an effect on everyone in the sector from producers to retailer to end-user. Careful consideration needs to be given so as little disruption as possible to the norm is caused. 

    The support and enthusiasm of retailers and wholesalers will play a large part in the success of the directive. Any legislation must embrace them, bring opportunity not restrict it and channel their energies to make sure the new legislation is as successful in the UK as it is in other European countries.

  • Batteries - The Batteries Directive charges ahead

    After years of anticipation, debate and wrangling, the Batteries directive is due to come into force in early 2010. Due to its drawn out implementation, retailers can be forgiven for becoming a little ‘snow blind' to the directive, its current status and how its development in recent months will affect them when it comes into force. Here, Vince Armitage, divisional vice president of Varta Consumer Batteries answers the most frequently asked questions the UK Varta sales team is asked by retailers on a regular basis, while highlighting retailer obligation and, also, how the sector can use the directive to its commercial advantage

    I have heard of it but what exactly is the Batteries Directive?
    The Batteries Directive is a new EU legislation which has been introduced to cope with a rapid increase in the use of portable power. Designed to reduce the quantity and impact waste batteries have on the environment, it means the UK has new responsibilities on how batteries are recovered, treated and recycled.  Once implemented, it will reduce the quantity of waste batteries going to landfill and increase the recycling of the materials they contain. Manufacturers will also be restricted in the quantities of hazardous materials their batteries contain, such as mercury and cadmium.

    When does it become law?
    After many months of deliberation between battery manufacturers and the government, the final guidelines for the Batteries Directive were set out on 5 May 2009 - bringing into force the European directive after a three-year wait. Retailers, producers and wholesalers now have until February 2010 to put the necessary infrastructure in place to make sure they are operating within the rules of the directive. 

    What do retailers need to do to be compliant?
    It all depends on how many units a retailer sells. Under the regulations, all retailers selling more than 32 kilograms of portable batteries per year - typically equating to seven packs of AA batteries per week - will need to provide customers with free drop-off facilities for waste batteries, from February 2010 onwards. This will probably take the form of on-site collection boxes with supporting information such as leaflets and posters. The directive applies to all UK retailers, regardless of the method of selling. Therefore, ‘distance sellers' - such as internet retailers, mail-order and telesales retailers - must comply and accept waste portable batteries from consumers. The method of collection is entirely up to the individual retailer but options include collection through local stores, postal return, giving advice on local municipal sites or kerbside collections within their area.

    This means distance sellers must clearly inform their customers on how they intend to take back waste batteries, whether it's through mail order adverts, on-screen during sales or leaflets sent with the goods. It's also important that these sellers take into account the environmental impact of transporting waste batteries.

    Finally, all obligated retailers should be prepared to act as ambassadors for the directive, educating consumers on their responsibilities. This will need to be backed-up with point of sale material and staff training that helps to explain the directive and its aims to customers.

    Are there any retailers that are not obligated?
    Yes. There are exemptions for smaller retailers which are defined by selling fewer than 32 kilograms of batteries per year. Retailers which fall into that category need not accept waste batteries. Equally, retailers that sell equipment containing batteries are not obliged to take such batteries back, unless they also sell portable batteries separately.

    If I sell fewer than 32kg per year, can I still get involved?
    Yes, there is nothing in the regulations to stop exempt retailers collecting back waste batteries. However, there may be additional effort needed on the side of the retailer. For instance, battery compliance schemes (BCS) will not be obliged to accept smaller retailers' waste batteries but may do so on reasonable terms. This could mean they could ask the retailer to take the batteries to one of their sites which could involve the retailer having to comply with legislation on the movement of hazardous waste and of dangerous goods. Therefore, if a retailer selling fewer than 32kg of batteries decides to collect, it would be advised to contact a BCS beforehand.

    What happens if I also import batteries into the UK?
    If a retailer imports batteries in to the UK and sells them to an end user, then under the directive, the retailer is also classed as a producer - meaning both distributer and producer obligations need to be fulfilled. This means that on top of offering free take-back arrangements in-store, these retailers will also need to join a BCS that will ensure that they are compliant with the directive.

    Later this year, the Environment Agency will publish a list of approved BCSs. It is advised that those retailers classed as producers investigate the best of scheme for their needs before choosing a partner as their services and charges will vary from scheme-to-scheme. The costs paid to the BCS will cover administrative, publicity, collection and recycling charges.
    However, if a retailer places one tonne or less onto the UK market, it will be classified as a small producer. This means that the trader will not need to join a BCS but will need to register with the Environment Agency and will need to report its batteries sales each year.

    Do we really need more legislation?
    The simple answer is yes, the directive has been introduced to help reduce the 600 million portable batteries that currently end up in UK landfill sites each year - something we are running out of quickly.  As part of the directive, the UK has been set ambitious, but achievable targets to hit. By 2012, the directive requires that 25% of waste batteries in the UK are recycled, rising to 45% by 2016. But this is a long way off as currently, the UK recycles just three per cent of portable batteries, compared to the impressive 59% being achieved in Belgium. Therefore, retailers have a big part to play in helping Britain meet the recycling rates laid down in the directive.

    Are there any benefits for retailers?
    While the Batteries Directive may be seen as yet another burden for retailers, it should in fact been viewed as an opportunity. Firstly, it could significantly increase footfall, as consumers seek out retailers that offer waste battery collection points, not to mention boosting a retailer's green credentials.

    But perhaps most importantly, is the ‘bring and buy' element that retailers will most certainly benefit from. Providing battery collection points will present further opportunities to sell replacement batteries, as well as newspapers, confectionary and other products that consumers' pick up on impulse. The introduction of the directive also gives retailers the opportunity to offer a larger range of rechargeable products. Due to the directive, consumers will be more focused on being more environmentally friendly and as such, products that are much kinder to the environment and the pocket will be in greater demand. Those that take this initiative will capitalise on the environmental drive as consumers continue to seek out greener methods of portable power.

    What happens when the collection box is full?
    This is where the retailer's responsibility ends. Waste batteries returned by end-users must be collected by BCSs and then treated and recycled. It has been decided that competing compliance schemes will control the collection of waste batteries from retailers. The BCSs are ultimately responsible for meeting the recycling targets set out by the directive and will therefore collect the batteries from retailers free of charge, meaning the overall cost for retailers will be minimal. BCSs will have 21 days from the initial retailer phone call to arrange a mutually convenient date for collection.

    Are waste batteries hazardous?
    Whether batteries are being collected at retail premises, local authorities or schools, it is important they are handled sensibly. Around 70% of batteries that are thrown out still have charge in them so mistreatment could be hazardous.
    Simple steps retailers can take are to not mix batteries with other waste and make sure they are placed away from water and excessive heat. BCSs and battery recyclers such as G&P Batteries (http://www.g-pbatt.co.uk/ ) can offer further advice on how to safely collect waste batteries.

    Where can I find out more about the Directive?
    There are a number of places to turn to for further information on the Directive. First and foremost, retailers should question their supplier for further details. They should be able to answer any questions and supply any information requested. The internet is also a good point of reference but its important that retailers use reputable sites to make sure the information they are seeing is correct. The following websites are a good point of reference.
    www.netregs.gov.uk  - a government run website which is full of information on the rules and regulations on all environmental legislation, including the Batteries Directive
    www.g-pbatt.co.uk/  - the site of G&P Batteries, a waste battery collection and battery recycling specialist
    www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/topics/batteries/  - a government run website from the Department for Environment, Food and Regulatory Reform (DEFRA)
    www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/sectors/sustainability/batteries/page30610.html   - a government run website from the Department for Environment, Food and Regulatory Reform (DEFRA)

  • Advertisement feature - Get charged up about the 2009 batteries regulations

    Environmental legislation, especially laws compelling businesses and Local Authorities to engage in more recycling, has been growing since the first pieces of producer responsibility legislation in the 1990s. Tough targets have been set for businesses to recover and recycle packaging and waste electrical items and electronics, but these targets have been met with little or few problems. This is about to change as UK producers and retailers of portable batteries, the  definition of which includes those sold with equipment such as laptops, phones, tools and toys, will soon have to take responsibility for a step change in UK recycling

    The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 became law on 5 May 2009 and introduce the tried and tested concept of ‘producer responsibility'. The rules apply to all battery types, although automotive and industrial battery producers should not face too much difficulty due to the current high recovery rates of these items.  Portable battery producers and retailers on the other hand will have to comply with stretching new obligations.

    All retailers selling over 32kg of portable batteries per year (the equivalent of about 16 AA cells per week) will have to offer free consumer collection points in store as of February next year. This might seem straight-forward but batteries require special treatment. Collection points may have to register under the Hazardous Waste Regulations, and batteries must be transported as ‘Class 9 dangerous goods' (the most dangerous) under the relevant transport regulations.

    For those classed as producers (most of the businesses affected by the 2007 WEEE Regulations are expected to fall into this bracket) there are also potential issues. The targets for portable battery collection and recycling rates in 2010, to be funded by producers, is 10% - more than three times the UK's current rate of approximately 3%. In addition, this figure rises steadily until 2012 when a rate of 25% must be achieved. Producers have until October this year to register with a compliance scheme but Valpak advises producers to start planning and budgeting as soon as possible.

    The costs to be met by producers under the new rules from January 2010 are currently difficult to estimate.  Some operators are offering fixed (but very high) prices based on a ‘per battery placed on the market' system and the only publicly available costs (from WRAP) are calculated from short term trial data and are therefore not representative.  However, Valpak is currently offering budget estimates for its members and we are confident we can, as with other producer responsibility regimes, match or beat any competition.

    Valpak is the UK's leading compliance scheme specialising in producer responsibility laws like this one. We're also a member owned ‘not for distribution' company with a sound track record of reliable compliance for our members for over 10 years. We are currently offering full ‘compliance' information services for all businesses who think they may be affected by the Batteries Regulations, which include simple explanations and expert interpretations of the law, free member seminars and the most up-to-date information. We can also provide both information and solutions to retailers affected by the new laws.

    www.valpak.co.uk 

    Tel: 08450 682572

  • Energizer joins Valpak batteries compliance scheme

    Valpak is pleased to announce one of the UK's largest battery producers, Energizer, has joined its batteries compliance scheme. Valpak has already confirmed its scheme membership is growing rapidly and the addition of Energizer is likely to mean it becomes one of the UK's largest battery schemes.

    Valpak's chief executive, Steve Gough comments: "We are delighted to welcome Energizer and look forward to working together to develop a sustainable and low cost batteries compliance system. Valpak recognise the economies of scale that having a member such as Energizer will bring. Many businesses will be well down the road to understanding what their responsibilities are and are now making their choice of scheme and signing up ahead of the 15 October deadline. Our job has always been to meet new pieces of environmental legislation at lowest costs for our customers whilst maximising the environmental benefit and the addition of Energizer demonstrates confidence we will achieve this on batteries."

    Under the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009, all battery producers who put more than one tonne of batteries per year onto the market will have to register with an approved compliance scheme. They will then have to provide quarterly information relating to the amounts and types of batteries that they sell. In addition, they will have to fund an amount of used battery collection and recycling based on the weight they sell.

    Valpak is the UK's leading provider of environmental compliance with over 10 years experience running successful Packaging and WEEE compliance schemes. As part of its batteries scheme Valpak has a partnership arrangement with G&P Batteries, the UK's largest portable battery collector, the combined expertise is sure to deliver high quality compliance, collection and treatment services.

    Alan Taylor, Energizer's director of customer services commented: "Energizer has worked with Valpak on both Packaging and WEEE compliance for many years and they have always provided competitive and reliable compliance so we're confident that the batteries scheme will be no different. When we began the process of choosing a batteries compliance scheme, our goals were to join a scheme that would support Energizer's aim to be an environmentally responsible company whilst also providing best value and we're happy that Valpak is the best scheme to deliver that."

    Steve Gough added: "We're pleased that the competitive nature of the UK system has been effective in bringing costs down and that Energizer has recognised Valpak's ability to perform in this area. We're now looking forward to working together to ensure the Regulations work effectively."

    The deadline for producers to register with a scheme is 15 October 2009. If you think you may be affected as a producer, or are a retailer who would like to discuss Valpak's battery collection services then please call: 08450 682 572 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

     


     

  • Rechargeable NiMH batteries

    Ansmann, a specialist manufacturer of batteries, battery chargers and power supplies for industrial, consumer and hobby applications, has launched the maxE/maxE+ range of long-lasting rechargeable NiMH batteries that are ideal for use in industrial portable equipment applications.

    Typically, rechargeable batteries have not been used in industrial portable equipment due to their annoying characteristic of rapidly self-discharging in just a few weeks, making it necessary to regularly re-charge batteries before equipment can be used, particularly if its use is infrequent. However, the very low self-discharge feature of the maxE/maxE+ batteries, which remain 85% charged even after a year, overcomes this problem, making them suitable for a whole range of industrial portable applications for which only traditional throw-away alkaline batteries would have previously been used.

    Pre-charged for immediate, out-of-the-packet use, the maxE/maxE+ batteries are available in seven different sizes including the ‘famous five' - AAA, AA, C, D and 9V E block. SubC and flat-top AA sizes are also available for use in battery pack assembly. The maxE batteries support a maximum charge current of up to 1200mAh and can be re-charged in a standard charger. To provide even higher capacities maxE+ batteries are available in AA (2500mAh) and E block (250mAh) formats.

    "The maxE/maxE+ rechargeable battery range offers all the advantages of standard rechargeable batteries but with the very low self-discharge and ready-to-use features of traditional alkaline batteries," said Paul Channell, managing director of Ansmann Energy (UK) Ltd. "They are ideally suited for use in industrial portable equipment applications where the use of rechargeable battery technology may previously have been spurned. As such, they deliver particularly important eco-cost benefits."

    Ansmann Energy (UK)
    0870 609 2233
    www.ansmann.co.uk
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Batteries - Time-shifting domestic PV POWER

    The ever-increasing political pressures on the global power generation industry to meet demanding climate and energy targets is driving the increased use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. As a result, electricity generation is becoming more decentralised and more intermittent. This calls for new types of power grids with both the flexibility and intelligence to receive generation of all qualities and quantities from diverse sources, and the capability of managing them to deliver reliable consumer supplies, explains Michael Lippert, Saft ESS (Energy Storage Systems) Division

    Much of the debate on the nature of these new smarter grids has been focused on issues such as clean power generation, smart metering and information. Now though, there is a growing appreciation that smarter grids will almost inevitably feature some form of energy storage to provide the vital continuity and quality of supply needed to ensure electricity is available wherever and whenever demand - rather than supply - dictates.

    A specific area where energy storage is set to make an early impact on smarter grids is in helping to boost self-consumption in grid-connected solar PV (photovoltaic) installations.

    Boosting self-consumption for on-grid PV installations
    By 2020, PV is expected to account for up to 12% of all generation in Europe, with a total installed capacity of some 390GW, with two-thirds of this being decentralised (source EPIA: ‘paradigm shift scenario'). PV installations with a permanent connection to the electricity grid are categorised as ‘on-grid' applications. This is currently the most popular type of PV system for homes and businesses in the developed world, comprising more than 90% of all PV installations.

    A typical domestic PV installation in Europe, such as those now especially popular in Germany and Spain, is sized to deliver around 3,000kWh/year. With the average yearly energy consumption in those two countries running at 3,500kWh it is clear an energy conscious household with an efficient PV system could be capable of meeting all its energy needs itself. However, the current practice is to inject all of the PV energy produced by domestic schemes into the local electricity network, to be sold to the local utility. The household still imports all the electricity it needs from the network.

    In the near future, it is expected we will see a significant change in this operating model as households aim to become energy autonomous. This means they will both produce and consume their own electricity, using a local energy storage system to store any excess PV energy until it is needed. In essence, the PV energy produced will need to be ‘time-shifted' from the day-time, peaking at noon, to make it available on demand in the evening.

    The introduction of energy storage will both maximise local consumption and enhance the efficiency of the PV system. Only surplus energy would be fed back into the grid, and it is even possible the owner of the PV system might be remunerated at a higher tariff during peak demand periods. The indications are future legislation in Europe will favour this type of ‘self-consumption', especially as the clear indication of the change in energy value and availability throughout the day will encourage households to adopt a much more energy conscious attitude.

    Security of supply and deferment of grid upgrades
    In addition to helping the shift towards self-consumption, energy storage can also increase security of supply while making individual consumers less dependent on the grid. This will help to stimulate the development of energy self-sufficient houses and buildings and contribute to the continuous growth of PV as part of the global energy mix.

    For utilities, the main benefit of on-grid energy storage is it will reduce the peak load on their grid while at the same time making PV a source of predictable, dispatchable power they can call on when needed. There is also the potential to defer costly grid upgrades needed to meet increasing demands for power.

    The anticipated implementation of smart metering and real time pricing will enhance the use of demand side management techniques and serve as a major tool to help balance load versus demand in future distribution networks. With such market mechanisms in place, end users can play an active role in optimising energy consumption whilst maximizing the ROI (return on investment) of their PV system. Energy storage enables them to do this without any reduction in their home comforts.

    On-grid energy storage - the operational model
    A typical residential PV system with a panel size of 3kW produces a daily average of 8.5kWh throughout the year in Northern Europe, ranging from 3kWh in winter to a peak of 12kWh in summer. About 4.5kWh of the PV energy will be used directly (self-consumed), as soon as it is produced. There is therefore an average excess of 4kWh - with a seasonal range of 1kWh to 6kWh - that can then be stored until needed. So an energy storage system will need to ‘time-shift' between 1 and 6kWh per day - averaging 4kWh.

    Li-ion battery technology
    In grid-connected energy storage applications, the newest practical battery technology, lithium-ion (Li-ion), offers the potential for significant improvements in terms of performance and service life over conventional storage batteries, and it is also zero-maintenance. However, although Li-ion batteries are very well established in consumer applications, the more rigorous demands of PV applications means ordinary consumer cells are not suitable. Instead, a new generation of Li-ion battery systems designed specifically for industrial applications is under development, with the first systems already on field test.

    The initial indications are Li-ion technology will offer both very high efficiency, of around 95%, combined with a long calendar and cycle life - 20 years at 60 percent DOD (depth of discharge)/day.

    The compact, sealed for life design of Li-ion batteries also offers considerable advantages. Considering a minimum capacity of 5kWh, then using Li-ion batteries it would be possible for a compact domestic battery to only take up 50 litres or so of space - similar to the footprint of a fridge-freezer.

    Guadeloupe grid-connected energy storage project
    A current project on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is testing the viability of using Li-ion batteries in conjunction with PV systems. 15 PV systems have been deployed over 10 sites, each consisting of an array of 2kW PV panels and a 210/280 V, 10kWh Saft Li-ion battery system that provides buffer storage for the grid-connected PV units.

    During peak periods, the PV systems provide a controlled injection of 4kWh daily to the grid, upon utility demand - one hour in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, simulating the substitution of fuel powered generators.

    Results from the two-year test period have shown the average daily cycle for the batteries is 45% DOD. This corresponds to about 50% of the generated PV energy stored at a battery efficiency of 97%. The expected payback time on the investment is between six to 10 years, depending on the prevailing cost of peak power.

    US DOE SEGIS and SMUD projects
    A Saft Li-ion battery system, sized at around 10kWh, will provide energy storage for one of the ‘Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems' (SEGIS) projects funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The objective of the SEGIS program is to develop high performance products that will allow PV to become a more integral part of household and commercial smart energy systems.

    Similarly, a Saft Li-ion battery will supply renewable energy storage for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's (SMUD) PV storage pilot programme at Anatolia, Ill, a high penetration PV community within SMUD's service territory. The two-year pilot project is being funded by the DOE to examine the value of distributed PV coupled with energy storage in 15 homes and three sites on SMUD's distribution system within the community.

    Efficient energy storage will enable solar power to be time-shifted to support SMUD's ‘super-peak' from 4pm to 7pm, particularly when PV output drops off after 5pm

    Sol-ion, Europe's largest PV energy storage development project.
    In the EU-backed Sol-ion project, Saft has joined forces with industrial partners Voltwerk and Tenesol, as well as with French and German research institutions. The aim is to create an integrated energy conversion and storage kit, capable of production on an industrial scale, for decentralised on-grid, residential PV systems.

    The development phase of the project, which commenced in August 2008, has been completed recently, and it is now moving into its test and evaluation phase. This involves the deployment of 75 Sol-ion energy kits for field trials across France and Germany.

    The Sol-ion trials will see Li-ion (lithium-ion) batteries used in PV systems on the largest scale ever tested in Europe. The trials will be used to assess the performance of the technology, its economic viability, the added value of energy storage in an on-grid system and the benefits to stakeholders. The project will also investigate the impact of energy storage on demand side management issues such as peak shaving effects and the potential for integration within future smart grid concepts.

    The Sol-ion kit has been developed to accommodate PV energy production of 5kWp (peak) with a battery rated from 5 to 15kWh and a nominal voltage of 170V to 350V. Li-ion is the only technology that meets the project's need for 20-year battery life in demanding environmental conditions.

    The energy conversion and system management systems are designed to handle four system functions: multidirectional energy flows; self-consumption; grid support; back-up. They are also intended to handle requirements for demand side management such as control over storage and loads using smart metering, and integration within future smart grids that will need to handle demand response and dynamic pricing.

    The Sol-ion battery is based on Saft's high energy Li-ion modules, with a nominal voltage of 48V and 2.2kWh capacity. These compact, maintenance-free modules feature an advanced and robust industrial design, and they can easily be connected in series or parallel to create the desired voltage and capacity for each installation.


    Conclusions
    - Energy storage is a vital element in smarter grids
    - Distributed on-grid PV systems with battery energy storage can effectively ‘time-shift' production, making electrical power available when it is needed.
    - Decentralized storage provides value to all stakeholders
    - Li-ion is a promising energy storage technology and industrialized systems are being developed and trialled

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