Fact: Electric vehicle batteries can be recycled and repurposed
Myth: EV batteries are a toxic environmental nightmare waiting to happen.
Explanation: The electric car battery recycling market is growing, and as it does it will create even better economics for electric vehicles (EVs) and has potential to provide valuable services to the electric grid. Even though lithium-ion batteries, the most common EV battery, are designated landfill-safe, there’s no good reason that they ever have to wind up there. EV batteries can and should be recycled, the lithium — currently in very high demand for laptops and phones and countless electronics — extracted for re-use.
Even more promising is the concept of reusing the batteries themselves for other applications. A battery considered to be too degraded for electric vehicle use still has about 75-80% of its capacity, and can be used for home energy storage or for grid storage applications.
A 2019 analysis by McKinsey Center for Future Mobility found that reused electric car batteries could replace more expensive gas-powered turbines, allowing utilities more flexibility in how they sell their power.
Nissan and General Motors are already partnering with companies and utilities to explore options for EV battery afterlives.
Elsewhere, Hyundai is developing a 1-megawatt-hour energy storage system that is made of used battery packs from its electric cars. BMW is recycling electric car batteries to connect to the UK National Grid.
These pilot projects for electric car battery recycling are proving the value of the EV battery packs after their useful lives on the road. By repurposing electric car batteries for grid, industrial, and home storage, these batteries can continue to support the integration of intermittent solar and wind generating resources, while making the electric grid more efficient and making energy more affordable for all customers.
- FleetCarma: “How Electric Car Batteries Are Reused or Recycled“
- Bloomberg: “Where 3 Million Electric Vehicle Batteries Will Go When They Retire“
- McKinsey: “Second-life EV batteries: The newest value pool in energy storage“
This post is one in a series produced to combat the misinformation campaigns attacking electric cars. To see all of the FACTS that combat the MYTHS perpetuated by the Koch network and Big Oil, check out EV Facts.
Feature image: The Tesla Series 6 has over 6000 of these Lithium Batteries by Wesley Fryer (CC BY 2.0) on Flickr.