Speech at Council meeting– I. Questions: Handling of retired electric vehicle batteries

Handling of retired electric vehicle batteries

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese): Thank you, President. There are currently four facilities for the treatment of these waste batteries, mainly by way of exporting them for recycling. However, the Government has already earmarked HK$10 million in subsidy for the second-life applications and recycling of these retired batteries. Earlier, Hong Kong Electric conducted a study on the conversion of retired batteries into backup energy storage that could be used as portable power banks in construction sites. I wish to ask: When these technologies become mature, will the Administration consider taking the lead in using such retired battery products in government buildings, so as to send the community the message that the Government encourages the after-life use of retired batteries?

SECRETARY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT (in Cantonese): President, many thanks to Mr CHAN. As the Honourable Member has rightly pointed out, our direction is to support more local research and even trial so that retired EV batteries can be given a second life and reused for better utilization of resources. Therefore, as I have pointed out in the main reply, support has been provided for local research institutes and companies to study the use of retired batteries through the Green Tech Fund. In fact, a few years ago, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department conducted a study in collaboration with the industry to identify possible applications of retired batteries that might suit the local context. But frankly, according to the findings, the development of applications of retired EV batteries involves complex technologies. In gist, different EV manufacturers have their own types of batteries and battery management systems, as well as different technology content. Rationalizing such differences is a huge challenge not only for Hong Kong but the world at large, and many places are conducting their own studies.

Therefore, my answer to the Honourable Member, simply put, is that our goal is in line with his views. But most importantly, all would depend on the progress of local research and development, as well as trial maturity. The Government’s attitude is positive. We will support the industry through various funds (including the Recycling Fund and the Green Tech Fund) and draw on its collective wisdom. In case there are suitable projects, the Government will actively take the lead though early and pilot implementation/use. Thank you, President.