When an electric vehicle (EV) comes off the road, what happens to the vehicle battery? The fate of the lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles is an important question for manufacturers, policy makers, and EV owners alike.
Today, EVs are a still a small piece of the automotive market. Many of the batteries coming off the road are being used to evaluate a range of options for reuse and recycling. Before batteries are recycled to recover critical energy materials, reusing batteries in secondary applications is a promising strategy.
The economic potential for battery reuse, or “second life,” could help to further decrease the upfront costs of EV batteries and increase the value of a used EV. Given the growing market for EVs, second-life batteries could also represent a market of low-cost storage for utilities and electricity consumers. But in order to enable widespread reuse of EV batteries, policy will play an important role in reducing barriers and ensuring responsible, equitable, and sustainable practices.
After 8 to 12 years in a vehicle, the lithium batteries used in EVs are likely to retain more than two thirds of their usable energy storage. Depending on their condition, used EV batteries could deliver an additional 5–8 years of service in a secondary application.
The article goes on to list 21 projects where second-life batteries are already in use.