The end-of-life issue of electric vehicle (EV) batteries is a key topic in the sustainability of EVs. By 2029, there will be 3 million used battery packs coming out of EVs per year which amounts to around 108GWh available storage capacity (see the IDTechEx's latest report on Second-life Electric Vehicle Batteries). What will happen to this huge amount of retired car batteries?
2018 is regarded as the starting year of retired EV batteries in China and the government is not wasting any time on developing standards and solutions for these batteries. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China has recently announced the pilot program of recycling and utilization of EV batteries in 17 major regions and cities. The pilot encourages the EV manufacturers to take advantage of their after-sales service channels to build regional battery collection and utilization network in collaboration with battery producers, vehicle dismantlers and battery second use/recycling companies.
Almost at the same time, the Regulations on the Battery Recycling and Traceability Management Platform is implemented. From August 2018, all EV batteries produced will be given a unique ID to help track the batteries during their entire lifecycle from production, throughout to sales, usage, scrapping/second use and recycling. EV battery manufacturers will code the batteries according to the National Standard - Coding Regulation for Automotive Traction and stakeholders along the value chain will need to update and upload the battery information onto the traceability management platform.
Login page of the Battery Traceability Platform (Source: CATARC)
China is taking the lead in building regulatory framework for the end-of-life treatment of EV batteries, not only because of the potential pollution problems but more importantly, the value in these retired batteries. Recycling is the 'default' solution to retired battery treatment and because most current EV battery chemistries contain high value metals such as nickel and cobalt, recycling is expected to become an important part of the EV supply chain. However, those retired batteries could still retain up to 80% residual capacity when they come out of the EVs, and they can have a second-life in less-demanding, non-EV applications such as stationary energy storage before being recycled. Most of the EV manufacturers have announced projects or businesses to repurpose retired EV batteries in various energy storage applications. For example, Nissan, in collaboration with power management company Eaton, has launched their commercial energy storage product xStorage using second-life LEAF batteries. Renault has been working with a UK-based energy company Connected Energy to build commercial-available energy storage units E-STOR using second-life Renault battery packs. For more information see IDTechEx's latest report on Second-life Electric Vehicle Batteries.
The second-life battery value chain is more complex than new batteries because it connects the value chains of EV and energy storage sectors and involves the reverse supply chain of EV batteries. The collection of retired EV batteries is considered as one of the key challenges for battery second use. It is much easier to collect the batteries if the EVs are in the battery-leasing model or if the EVs are operated as fleets such as taxies and buses. As Matthew Lumsden the CEO of Connected Energy said: 'Renault is the ideal company to work with in terms of second-life batteries because their batteries are leased which makes the supply chain much simpler.' However, for most EV producers, they don't have control over the battery flow which makes it difficult to predict the future supply of second-life batteries. With EV batteries in China being given IDs, Chinese EV companies will benefit a lot in tracking and planning the second use or recycling of their batteries. For more detailed analysis of the second-life battery market, please see IDTechEx's latest report on Second-life Electric Vehicle Batteries.
If you want to learn more about second-life EV batteries, be sure not to miss our next leading event on the topic: Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing, USA 2018 on 14-15 Nov 2018 at Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, USA hosted by IDTechEx.
Top image: Ingot Metas