Many are raising alarms that the imminent mass adoption of EVs will create a huge recycling nightmare down the line when all their battery packs will no longer be usable and will have to be recycled. But if those batteries still hold some of their original capacity, maybe most can be repurposed and be given a second life as part of an energy storage array like this one from California.
The company is called B2U Storage Solutions is already making money with reused EV battery packs and it’s even active on the California power market now. Their array of 160 Nissan Leaf battery packs whose combined capacity is 4 MWh, and they can supply a combined 2.75 MW of power; they apparently make as much as $200 per MWh.
So they are not only making money storing energy and selling it when the price is highest, but they are also prolonging the battery packs’ life. These packs may not be able to hold quite as much energy as when they were new, but they are still useful in applications such as this one, especially since they are usually swapped out when they drop below 80 percent.
According to B2U’s CEO, Freeman Hall,
All batteries follow a degradation curve, and as we gain experience, we’ll be able to demonstrate reliable degradation curves for the second-life batteries utilized in our projects, where we’re able to control for the relevant factors affecting cycle life, including depth of discharge, charge and discharge speeds, and cell temperatures.
If all electric vehicles’ battery packs get a second life like this before they inevitably end up being recycled, fewer of them will actually need to be disposed of at a time, thus making the grim scenario from the first paragraph seem less likely to actually unfold.