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EV Batteries: Promise of An Afterlife

You have your solutions, and then there are elegant solutions.

The “solution” is an electric car itself, such as a Chevy Volt, Spark EV, Nissan Leaf, etc., but the “elegant solution” could be maximizing the value and fleshing out a complete cradle-to-grave and beyond paradigm for post consumer batteries.

As a case in point, Nissan and GM are working with ABB Group seeking ways to practically re-use EV batteries in energy storage systems which maximize value of an otherwise post-lifecycle car battery, and add to the renewable energy grid. By definition, EV batteries are deemed post life when their charge holding capacity is somewhere around 70-percent depleted and they cannot meet a sufficient range compared to the new EV.

At the same time, there may be a monetary payback for the depleted battery in years to come, thus lessening the sting of the EV’s price tag for the consumer who may even be able to sell off his old battery to offset the cost of a new one.

“From an environmental picture standpoint, you need to think about the sustainability of everything you’re doing. You need to focus on the broader picture,” said Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager of battery lifecycle management in an interview with Automotive News. “What we’re doing right now is preparing for that broader picture — getting awareness up, both from a customer standpoint and also an industry standpoint, so that the energy storage industry is thinking about secondary use.”

Valencia said he expects within 10 years time the bugs will be worked out of energy storage prototypes just now being demonstrated, and infrastructure will be in place to accept used EV batteries, check their level of performance capacity remaining, and re-purpose them into stationary energy storage units.


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