Recycling EV Batteries More Cost-Competitive Than Using For Home Energy Storage

on November 25, 2016

energy storage cleantechnicaIt makes more sense from an economic standpoint to recycle old plug-in electric vehicle batteries than to reuse them directly for home energy storage, according to a new report from Lux Research.

The primary reason? According to Lux Research, reused plug-in electric vehicle batteries will “deliver questionable returns on account of reduced performance, limiting them to application with less frequent and shallower depth of discharge cycles.”

This echoes what Tesla CTO JB Straubel said earlier this year. Tesla has said repeatedly that it plans to recycle almost 100% of the materials in its batteries at its Gigafactory. When asked about simply reusing batteries instead of recycling them, though, JB Straubel indicated that Tesla continuously finds that this doesn’t work out as a cost-competitive approach. Here were his comments on the matter:

“We’ve looked at reuse or kind of the second life of automotive batteries for grid applications very closely, and you know, ultimately, every time we’ve studied this we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a very economical or very good use of those assets.

“You know, by the time they come out of a vehicle that’s lived its life, the technology will be quite old. We expect 10 maybe 15 year life at a minimum from these batteries. And, you know, the degradation is not entirely linear. By the end of their life, the efficiency has degraded on every cycle, you see lower efficiency, the capacity will have somewhat degraded, and for a lot of reasons, it makes it very difficult to deploy those efficiently back into a grid setting, where you want high reliability and you do want predictability.

“So, my view is that we’ll see new batteries dedicated to that market, that also have slightly different characteristics — they should have higher cycle life. In an electric vehicle that has 200+ miles of range, you don’t need as many cycles as you do on a battery that’s designed to charge and discharge every single day on the grid. There’s perhaps a factor of about 4 or 5 difference in the cycle life — so that’s one aspect.”

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CleanTechnicaRecycling EV Batteries More Cost-Competitive Than Using For Home Energy Storage