As electric vehicles rapidly grow in popularity worldwide, there will soon be a wave of used batteries whose performance is no longer sufficient for vehicles that need reliable acceleration and range. But a new study shows that these batteries could still have a useful and profitable second life as backup storage for grid-scale solar photovoltaic installations, where they could perform for more than a decade in this less demanding role.
The study, published in the journal Applied Energy, was carried out by six current and former MIT researchers, including postdoc Ian Mathews and professor of mechanical engineering Tonio Buonassisi, who is head of the Photovoltaics Research Laboratory.
As a test case, the researchers examined in detail a hypothetical grid-scale solar farm in California. They studied the economics of several scenarios: building a 2.5-megawatt solar farm alone; building the same array along with a new lithium-ion battery storage system; and building it with a battery array made of repurposed EV batteries that had declined to 80 percent of their original capacity, the point at which they would be considered too weak for continued vehicle use.
They found that the new battery installation would not provide a reasonable net return on investment, but that a properly managed system of used EV batteries could be a good, profitable investment as long as the batteries cost less than 60 percent of their original price.
Source: “Solar energy farms could offer second life for electric vehicle batteries”, David L. Chandler, MIT News Office