One of the big questions people ask (sometimes disingenuously) is what will be done with all of the batteries after the end of an EV’s life. If EVs don’t last very long, and then all those batteries end up in junkyards, then we’ll have a major environmental problem on our hands, right?
But, things have changed a lot in the industry and this isn’t the problem it appears to be on the surface.
For one, EV batteries can last for hundreds of thousands of miles. Sure, some early EVs, like those in the Nissan LEAF (with no battery cooling system) did end up dying young, but other EVs are showing a lot more promise. We’re already seeing EVs last for a long, long time with only a little range loss. With decent longevity and the simplicity of the rest of the vehicle’s systems, most EVs will last longer than the average ICE car before any question of what to do with the batteries comes up.
Another thing we’re seeing is that batteries are too valuable to just throw away and create an environmental disaster with. When an EV gets totaled in a wreck, people jump at the opportunity to buy the battery pack, busted or not. The battery cells are useful for the repair of other EVs, upgrades for some older EVs, and reuse for all sorts of things, like EV conversions and stationary battery storage.
By the time an EV’s battery has lasted the life of a car, and then lived through a second life as a part of an EV conversion or stationary battery storage system, it will have done its job for the environment. And by that point, recycling centers all around the world can more safely and easily disassemble the pack and do whatever is necessary to keep those materials from entering our biosphere.
The only question now is one of proof. EV skeptics are now going to tell us that they want to see companies actually using second-life batteries, and a recent press release from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is just another one to add to the pile.
JLR has partnered with Wykes Engineering Ltd, a leader in the renewable energy sector, to develop a large-scale energy storage system in the UK. This system aims to harness solar and wind power by utilizing second-life Jaguar I-PACE batteries. Each Wykes Engineering BESS incorporates 30 second-life I-PACE batteries, enabling the storage of up to 2.5MWh of energy at full capacity. These batteries are sourced from prototype and engineering test vehicles.
By the end of 2023, JLR plans to supply enough batteries to store a total of 7.5MWh of energy, which can power 750 homes for a day. In the future, additional containers can be created to accommodate more second-life batteries obtained from used production vehicles.
“Our sustainability approach addresses the entire value chain of our vehicles, including circularity of EV batteries. Our EV batteries are engineered to the highest standards and this innovative project, in collaboration with Wykes Engineering, proves they can be safely reused for energy sector application to increase renewable energy opportunities. Using the 70-80% residual capacity in EV batteries, before being recycled, demonstrates full adoption of circularity principles,” said François Dossa, Executive Director of Strategy and Sustainability at JLR. “Working together with industry-leading partners, we are developing a complete EV ecosystem, from batteries to charging, supporting our net-zero transformation.”
Each BESS, connected to an advanced inverter for optimal efficiency and energy management, can supply power to the National Grid during peak hours and store power from the grid during off-peak hours. These battery storage systems play a crucial role in decarbonizing the grid by handling sudden spikes in demand and maximizing the utilization of solar and wind energy in favorable conditions for future use.
Wykes Engineering and JLR have achieved seamless integration as part of their technical collaboration. No additional manufacturing steps or battery module removal is required. The batteries from the Jaguar I-PACE are easily transferred to on-site racks in containers, maximizing project sustainability.
This partnership marks a significant milestone in JLR’s commitment to circular economy principles, aligning with its strategy to achieve carbon net zero by 2039.
“We’re delighted to be working with Wykes Engineering on this pioneering project that will help unlock the true potential of renewable energy.” said Reuben Chorley, Sustainable Industrial Operations Director at JLR. “Developing second-life battery projects like this is crucial to helping JLR adopt a new circular economy business model and drive us toward achieving carbon net zero by 2039.”
Second-life battery supply for stationary applications, such as renewable energy storage, is projected to surpass 200 gigawatt-hours per year by 2030, resulting in a global value exceeding $30 billion. JLR’s batteries are meticulously engineered and can be repurposed for low-energy scenarios once they no longer meet the stringent requirements of electric vehicles, typically retaining a residual capacity of 70-80%.
This initiative will enable JLR to explore new circular economy business models in energy storage and other sectors. Once the battery health declines below the threshold for second-life use cases, JLR will recycle the batteries, recovering raw materials to promote a true circular economy.
“One of the major benefits of the system we’ve developed is that the containers are connected to the Grid in such a way that they can absorb solar energy ,that could otherwise be lost when the grid reaches capacity.” said David Wykes, Managing Director of Wykes Engineering. “This excess energy can now be stored in the second life I-PACE batteries and discharged later. This allows us to ‘overplant’ the solar park and maximise the amount of power we generate for the area of land we are using.”
Manufacturers Don’t Have To Do This
What’s great about seeing manufacturers move to make sure the batteries reused is that they really don’t have to make these arrangements. Used batteries are already so valuable that somebody somewhere will buy it and reuse it. But, seeing them actually care about what happens after their product leaves the stage later shows that they are actually considering sustainability, and not trying to just greenwash cars.
Featured image provided by JLR.
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