In the future, we’ll be swamped with old EV batteries. Can they still be of use before they need to be recycled?
As we buy more EVs, the global stockpile of batteries is forecast to exceed 3.4 million packs by 2025. By 2030, there will be a 25-fold surge in battery demand for EVs.
Here’s a question: what should we do with all those rechargeable batteries once they’re no longer capable of keeping our electric vehicles (EVs) on the road?
To cope with all the redundant batteries created by this surge, car manufacturers are establishing recycling programs - but when it’s removed from an EV, a battery often still holds a good charge and could have a another use, like the seven outlined here, before it gives up completely.
1. Keeping your lights on
Higher energy demands in the future will, of course, be partly driven by increased numbers of EVs on the road. So, it’s both neat and fitting that Honda is partnering with American Electric Power (AEP) to reuse old EV batteries to store energy so it can help meet demand during spikes by providing power back to the network when we need it most.
2. Powering your camping holiday
One of the ways Nissan plans to repurpose its EV batteries is in camping trailers, where they’ll help power lights, heat, and even charge your phone or laptop.
Called “Roam”, the camping trailer will be able to store 700Wh of electricity, so along with 400W solar panels it should be enough for a good week getting back to nature.
3. Powering events
With batteries able to hold as much energy as a typical home uses in a day, it’s little wonder Volkswagen plans to use batteries from old EVs for a network of portable charging stations. Charging up to four EVs at a time, these stations will be used in hard-to-charge locations or as ‘pop-ups’ at public events, making it easier to take your EV to a music festival.
4. Building your next car
Repurposing old components to help build the cars of tomorrow - it makes sense doesn’t it? That’s probably what Audi thought when it planned to reuse batteries in the forklifts and tugs that move parts around its factory at Ingolstadt, in Germany.
Previously, workers would have to remove large trays of lead-acid batteries from tugs multiple times each day and install them on charging stations. Now, they’ll recharge old e-tron modules and extract between 30 and 50 kwh of battery capacity.
5. Powering your workplace
A good amount of car manufacturers are also partnering with new, specialist organizations to repurpose batteries to offer home and office storage. Box of Energy is one such specialist, it uses modules from Volvo hybrid cars. In a three-tower apartment complex in western Sweden, energy from rooftop solar panels is stored in refrigerator-like vaults to run the elevators and lights in common areas.
6. Renting energy to your neighbor
London-based Powervault claims use of old battery technology could cut a household’s electricity bill by more than a third. It plans to break down Renault Zoe battery packs for use as storage for solar energy in homes and schools in England. It's then not too hard to imagine that you'll soon be able to start sharing energy with your neighbors whilst saving on your bills.
7. Making your shopping greener
In Japan batteries from hybrid Toyotas will be similarly used as rechargeable storage for solar panels fitted into 7-Eleven convenience stores across Japan. The aim is to cut CO2 emissions and help the store chain place a greater reliance on renewable energy sources.
Building the future
We're working hard with our partners, including Virta who operate hundreds of public EV charging stations, to help make EV use stronger. Collaboration means we can find innovative ways to make our cities more sustainable.
Do you know of any other novel uses of EV batteries? If so, let us know in the comments.