What does second life of electric vehicle batteries mean?
Second Life means, that after the so called “End-Of-Life” (=EOL) of an electric vehicle, its batteries are re-used in other applications. Therefore, the batteries spend their first life in a car (or a truck, bus, e-scooter,…) and the second life in, e.g., an electric storage for photovoltaic systems.
Why is the second life of electric vehicle batteries so important?
Electric Vehicles (=EVs) are necessary for a greener future, but are often criticized for using Li-Ion batteries: Those batteries use raw materials which are typically hard to mine and thereby need lots of energy. Additionally, mining is most of the times conducted in an unsustainable way (Müncon also consults mining projects to become sustainable
). Second Life is one way to lower the carbon footprint of Electric Vehicle batteries. In order to lower the carbon footprint, the usage time of batteries must be maximized. It is expected that electric vehicle batteries can last between five and ten years in their second life
. To further reduce the carbon footprint and establish a circular economy, those batteries then should be recycled
Why is this topic urgent in Europe?
As more and more Electric Vehicles in Europe will reach their End-Of-Life in the coming years, there is the need to re-use the batteries containing valuable raw materials. Latest, by 2028, at least 100.000 electric vehicles will be ready for second life in Central Europe. From 2030 on, one million electrics vehicles will reach their End-Of-Life – each year.
Second life companies must be prepared to guarantee the re-use of this massive wave of batteries. Otherwise, those batteries are either exported or are likely to end up in landfills, which leads to more environmental damage.
What is the general status of second life projects?
Generally, Second Life Projects are still in a pilot phase.
The typical life of Electric Vehicle Batteries is at least eight years
according to the warranty given by the manufacturers. As the first mass market electric cars were introduced in 2010 with the Nissan Leaf,
followed by the Renault Zoe (2013
) and the BMW i3 (2013
), only a few cars have reached their End-Of-Life yet. Hence, there are hardly batteries for second life projects available.
Are there any second life reference projects?
Regarding actual projects, there are some lighthouse projects, but no mass market applications yet. The most common applications are energy storage systems running on second life batteries. Popular examples are: (1) the second life batteries used to power the Amsterdam Arena
, (2) the biggest second life storage project of 13 MWh by Daimler
, (3) BMW cooperating with Vattenfall
and many more
. The goal of most companies right now is to understand how second life batteries perform in practice.