More sustainable energy from used electric vehicle batteries

Electric car

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Rechargeable lithium ion batteries used in most electric vehicles typically have eight to 10 years’ use in them. Beyond that they’re not as effective and the electric vehicle’s range starts to reduce, making them impractical.

But that doesn’t mean that the batteries no longer have potential uses. Taken out of vehicles and linked together, they can form stationary units for energy storage. Most vehicle batteries are only around 25% degraded by the time they need to be replaced. By harnessing the principles of the circular economy, significantly more value can be created from the resources already embedded within batteries before recycling.

E-STOR, developed by Newcastle-based company Connected Energy with support from Innovate UK, is the first commercially available energy storage system that uses ‘second life’ electric vehicle batteries.

As Connected Energy CEO Matthew Lumsden explained, the trick is to enable a variety of batteries to work together:

All used batteries are slightly different. Our system can talk to many of them at the same time, understand the condition and capacity of each of them, and operate them together as an aggregate.

Uses for the batteries include powering car-charging stations, storing low-cost energy to be used in businesses at peak times, and evening out the peaks and troughs of supply that come with renewable energy sources: the fact that the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Energy storage users can also generate new revenue streams by selling services to the National Grid.

It is estimated that used batteries can continue to be effective for some seven to 10 years after they are taken out of vehicles, truly a second life, about as long as they spent on the road.

Last updated: 11 March 2021

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