Batteries aren’t dead when they come to the end of their useful life in an electric vehicle.
Reused or “second-life” lithium-ion batteries still have a lot of juice left in them, but so far the concept of using these batteries in stationary applications has yet to gain real market traction. New research, growing automotive industry interest and an expanding startup ecosystem suggest that that could now finally be changing.
EV batteries are typically replaced after they lose around 20 percent of their capacity, which means that there’s still up to 80 percent capacity remaining that can be used for stationary storage applications. Tapping into that remaining battery life has the potential to cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but it comes with several challenges.
Retrofitting lithium-ion batteries for reuse requires extensive testing and upgrades to ensure that the product will perform reliably in its new role. The nascent second-life battery market also needs a steady battery supply, customer demand and access to funding in order to be successful.
Solutions are within reach, with a growing group of technology startups and major automakers working to advance the second-life battery segment as EV sales continue to increase.