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EVs Live on in Power Storage

Old electric-vehicle batteries are getting new lives courtesy of auto makers, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “Auto makers such as Nissan Motor Corp. and Renault SA are stepping up efforts to repurpose old batteries and tap surging demand for energy storage.”

  • “Global investment in grid-scale batteries reached $6.8 billion in 2021, up from $4 billion in 2020, according to International Energy Agency estimates.”
  • Worldwide, there are 10 million EVs on the road, and that number is expected to reach 300 million by 2030, according to the IEA.

Second use: After about 100,000 miles of use, an EV battery loses 20% or more of its capacity—“[b]ut they remain useful for grid storage until their capacity drops to around 60%, potentially giving them another 10 to 15 years of service, according to Hans Eric Melin, founder of Circular Energy Storage Research and Consulting.”

  • “The combined capacity of retired batteries will climb from 10.4 gigawatt hours last year to 107.5 gigawatt hours by 2030, according to Circular Energy Storage Research and Consulting.”

The current undertaking: In March, auto maker Nissan and European utility Enel SpA started using 48 old EV batteries and 30 new ones in an energy-storage system for Melilla, a town on the coast of Morocco.

The vision: EV makers are hoping for a three-stage battery life cycle. This consists of a first stage as an EV in a car, a second stage as part of stack in a grid-scale battery and a third stage as a source of harvested lithium, cobalt and nickel for the creation of new batteries.

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