A Second Life Before Final Recycling
Electric car batteries deteriorate with time, and depending on their chemistries and design, they might need to be replaced at some point in the life of a vehicle, or they might last until the rest of the vehicle reaches the end. Either way, we need to do something with these used batteries. The obvious answer is to recycle them, but a better solution is to first give them a second life in a stationary storage station. How is that possible? Well, a battery pack that isn't good enough for an electric vehicle could still hold about 80% of its charge. Not something you want to throw away!
Photo: Flickr, CC
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This could help intermittent power sources like solar and wind to store power when there's a surplus, and to keep juice flowing when it's cloudy and there's no wind. Of course it's all a question of scale and cost, and this probably isn't the solution. But it could certainly help.
It could also provide benefits to electric car buyers. If they own the battery, selling it at the end of its useful life could help offset part of the cost. But more likely is that automakers will start to lease batteries and subsidize part of their costs by making deal with renewable energy companies. Nissan probably wanted to do something like that when they were talking about leasing the LEAF's battery pack, but the way tax credits work made them scrap that plan for now.
It wouldn't be surprising if GM was looking at something similar with the Volt batteries (picture on the first photo).
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