There’s plenty of concern out there about what happens to EV batteries that have reached the end of their useful lives, and with tens of millions more electric vehicles due on the road in coming years it’s an issue that needs to be tackled.
It’s one that’s exercising the minds of plenty of technical boffins as they search for ways of either re-purposing or recycling EV batteries, and in ways that reduce the environmental impact and that don’t require huge amounts of energy. It’s a real challenge, especially when you consider that some of the materials employed within batteries are very hazardous and require careful handling. And then there’s the cost of the materials – such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese – themselves, and the energy required to extract and process them.
Fortunately, many of the car industry’s finest minds are working to find an answer and a number of car makers have already launched projects that aim to tackle this thorny problem. It’s reckoned that only around 5% of EV batteries are currently recycled (precise figures are hard to come by) but Volkswagen has already opened its first recycling centre in Germany and other manufacturers are set to follow.
And if they aren’t recycled, what about giving those old battery packs another lease of life? Well, that’s exactly what a number of car makers are doing, including Skoda who have announced that more than 160 dealers in Europe will use batteries from the Enyaq and plug-in hybrid models. They’ll be used to store sustainably-generated electricity that can then be used to power on-site EV chargers, or used by the dealerships themselves to provide energy to buildings.
Nissan already has a scheme that sees old battery packs used to store power for homes and businesses. And it’s a similar story with Renault, their SmartHub project in West Sussex utilising 1000 old batteries to provide energy to the local community; in fact they say it can store enough energy to power 1695 average homes for a full day. Amongst others, Volvo say they are also exploring ways of re-using batteries while Nissan is one manufacturer that uses LEAF batteries to power equipment within its factories.
This all sounds like good news, but it’s a challenge that will only grow in size as more and more car owners make the switch to electric motoring. That the issue is receiving so much scrutiny can only be positive, and will no doubt lead to plenty more innovation in the years to come.
Here at RBW this is something that matters to us, so we’ll be keeping a very close eye on developments. We want you to enjoy driving our electrified classics today, but we are also looking forward to a cleaner future.
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