The future of electric vehicle batteries – giving them a second-life

The number of electric vehicles globally is set to triple from 3 million today to 13 million by 2020.


These numbers may rise further to 125 million by 2030 – or even 220 million if climate policies are strengthened – according to International Energy Agency’s latest forecasts.


The most expensive component on an electric car is its battery. Yet when retired, the batteries can still retain 70 – 80% of their initial capacity!


Clearly, we aren’t getting the most out of this expensive component.


Although recycling electric vehicle (EV) batteries helps, the process uses a lot of energy, causes potential pollution, and there are of course still costs associated with it.


As a way to combat this resource wastefulness, many companies are exploring ways to repurpose a second—life for retired – though still capable – EV batteries. Such uses include stationary energy storage.


Major automotive manufacturers such as Hyundai, Nissan, and Renault, have launched projects to look into second-life batteries. These early adopters could benefit from new revenue streams, which gives second-life use even more potential.



The growing energy storage market


A recent report by research group, Circular Energy Storage, has highlighted that improved manufacturing processes make this type of second-life use achievable at better costs – which would increase revenue generation for stakeholders in the market even further.


Considering there has been a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles in the market (approximately 500,000 in the EU today), the potential to use EV batteries as storage devices has increased – assuming a standard Nissan Leaf battery size of 24 kWh represents a total storage capacity of 12 GWh.


Half the world’s electric vehicles are sold in China, and the country is implementing rules to ensure car manufacturers are responsible for expired batteries, with a view to keeping them out of landfills.


Founder of Circular Energy Storage Research and Consulting, Hans Eric Melin, says, “By 2025, three-quarters of used EV batteries will be reused and then recycled to harvest raw materials.”




Reuse and repower


IDTechEx – an independent market research and business intelligence organisation – has also released a report which features a comprehensive analysis on the technology, players, business models, opportunities, and more, of second-life EV batteries.


The report, Second-life Electric Vehicle Batteries 2019-2029, includes a ten-year forecast on the available capacity from second-life batteries, and outlines finding the best matching use for each particular battery.


By 2029, the report estimates that over 100 GWh storage capacity annually could be provided through second-life batteries. One example looks at China Tower – one of the biggest buyers of second-life batteries – which uses them as back-up power for their 2 million telecom towers across China.


The in-depth report additionally provides an analysis on the current landscape and answers questions on total available storage capacity, potential applications, key technical challenges, and innovations to extract the most value from them.











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The market for battery recycling is expected to grow to $3.5 billion, and the market for second-life batteries could reach $4.2 billion by 2025.
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