Client Relations Manager Jeremy Worley recently attended the 2024 InterBattery Conference in Seoul, South Korea, and joined the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development in the Team Kentucky booth. InterBattery showcases new products and technologies related to the battery industry. It is the largest battery show in Asia, featuring 579 exhibitors, 1,896 booths, and 75,000 buyers.

Below, Jeremy talks about his experience in South Korea and some of his key takeaways from the conference.

What were the important things you learned at InterBattery?

Innovation was the main theme, and even though every car manufacturer has at least one electric vehicle available, or is bringing one to the market, the electric vehicle battery industry is still constantly evolving. Companies are looking at every part of the battery, from the design to how the raw materials are gathered and processed. Through BE NKY’s business attraction efforts, we scheduled meetings with dozens of companies, including chemical engineering firms, battery component manufacturers, raw material separator companies, and many battery recycling companies.

I got to see these electric vehicles up close on the expo floor, sit in them, and get an idea of what they were like, especially the ones that aren’t available in the United States, including a classic black taxicab from the United Kingdom. It was interesting to learn that the electric vehicle battery industry works with micromobility options including wheelchairs, scooters, and bikes. Innovation is driving down costs, production can scale up, and the entire process is getting more efficient.

What opportunities do you see for Northern Kentucky in the electric vehicle battery industry?

Northern Kentucky has a major opportunity to attract companies in the battery supply chain – from production to recycling companies. Recycling seems to be the next big wave of operations that could be headed to the United States.  These operators want to be within 200 miles of battery manufacturers, and Northern Kentucky is lucky to be located near the BlueOvalSK Battery Park in Glendale, Kentucky, and the Honda/LG Energy Solution battery plant in Fayette County, Ohio.

We also have opportunities to fill out the supply line. Almost every company I spoke with on the battery supply chain had an interest in opening a facility in the United States, and although there are some concerns surrounding electric grid capacity and stability, these companies trust the United States to find solutions to these problems.

InterBattery Europe is taking place this summer in Germany. I think it would be interesting if someone from our team could attend and compare the innovations and interests of Asian and European companies.

What did you think of South Korea from a cultural standpoint?

I really enjoyed getting to experience authentic South Korean food. My favorite meal was at a Korean BBQ restaurant that featured real wasabi and the best salt and steak I’ve ever had. I also loved the Korean fried chicken, which was surprising to me, because, even though I’m from Kentucky – the home of KFC, I’m not usually a huge fried chicken fan.

Everything in the country was clean, including the waterways and all aspects of public transportation. After the conference, I took vacation time and rode the bullet train to Busan and saw some beautiful beaches. I just wish it was warm enough to spend the day by the water!

I also loved visiting a meerkat café and touring temples and palaces that have been standing for hundreds of years.