Over the years, we've witnessed an increase in the popularity of lithium batteries and electric vehicles. This increase is driven by the objective to electrify the transport industry and reduce GHG emissions resulting from this sector. The transport sector in the United States is the largest single emitter of GHG gas emissions to the atmosphere. Comparing the USA’s data on emissions over the past 20 years, emissions resulting in the transport sector have dropped by an estimated six percent. The main driver of this trend is the significant improvement in the efficiency of internal combustion engine vehicles, highlighting the huge impact that a single factor can have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Governments across the world are formulating policies and investing to favor this growth. The US Department of Energy in August announced a $15.5 Billion package to the EV industry to support the manufacturing of electric vehicles for the just energy transition. In the same period, the DOE also gave notice of intent to strengthen the American Battery manufacturing industry through investments in what it calls the clean energy industries of the future. These intentional drives and others implemented by other countries promise a future where EVs will be mainstream. Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and China lead in this transition with Norway's EV market share hitting 80% last year.
The global competitiveness of the EV market has further stimulated industry growth. Companies have invested heavily in EV research and development, leading to significant technological advancements and the creation of cutting-edge EV technologies. At the heart of this interesting revolution lies the battery, the core component of any electric vehicle and the driving force of the entire industry.
However, as with any technological advancement, skepticism remains. Concerns surround the sourcing of rare-earth metals for battery production, particularly regarding the mining process and its long-term sustainability. While that aspect of sustainability is crucial and interesting, this article instead delves into the crucial question of battery end-of-life and the opportunities it brings. This is a critical issue that surrounds the EV industry's long-term sustainability and what happens to the old batteries from these EVs when they reach their end of life or when their functionality starts to decline.
While current EV battery technology boasts lifespans of 15 to 20 years according to most industry estimates, its capacity inevitably declines over time. This raises a crucial question: what happens to all these batteries at the end of their useful lives? Despite the decline in their functionality, these batteries still have viable life in them and can be quite useful in other applications - Aged battery packs can still provide up to three days' worth of electricity consumed in an American home.
Role of DIY
The DIY industry has the potential to play a crucial role in the end-of-life management of EV batteries. By repurposing and extending their lifespan, the DIY community can help ensure that we get the most out of these valuable resources before they are recycled to recover rare earth elements, completing their lifecycle and contributing to the circular economy. They can find its applications in Household energy storage and for off-grid installations.
A successful proof of concept for this is using 148 Nissan Leaf EV batteries to power the Johan Cruyff arena in the Netherlands. This project provides around 3MW of power to power the whole stadium.
JAG35 has been for some time now in this field of selling new as well as repurposed batteries from EVs, eScooters, eBikes, etc, and giving them a lease for second-life use.
In discussing green initiatives and a just energy transition, addressing the end-of-life issue for EV batteries is just as important as the steps taken toward sustainable energy practices.
Similar to how a single factor in the efficiency of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles played a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the repurposing of electric vehicle batteries for alternative energy use before recycling could significantly contribute to the net-zero initiative. Check out JAG35’s current EV batteries for DIY use here.
Article contributed to JAG35, written by Japhet K, Electrical Engineer at http://charged-engineering.com