Doron Frenkel, founder and CEO of driivza leading platform for EV charging and power management.
There may be a problem looming in the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem. In the coming years, the first generation of EV batteries will reach the end of their useful life. They are not designed for recycling and pose a significant risk if landed in landfills.
But there is one way business leaders can help provide a green solution to this challenge: using second-hand EV batteries as local storage. This tactic can support EV fast charging, replenish power from the grid during peak times and store power from renewable energy sources.
How can we “green” EV batteries?
EVs are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that degrade naturally over time. When a battery runs out 20% or more of its capacity, the range loss is enough to make it unsuitable for use in EVs. Nevertheless, used EV batteries can still be charged and discharged.
By racking and stacking the batteries, placing them in a weatherproof cabinet and linking them together, we can create one large battery that can be used for local energy storage. Smart battery management technology maximizes the capacity of each battery and improves the overall performance of the storage unit. Smart energy storage and smart energy management technologies work together to use that stored energy.
Here are three examples of cases where second life battery storage can be applied.
1. Fast charging for electric fleets
The green future we envision for the planet includes many millions of electric vehicles charged by fast and ultra-fast charging powered by renewable energy. This includes fleets of electric cars, vans and both light and heavy trucks owned or leased by the company. Fast charging to keep these vehicles on the road is an important part of driver satisfaction and efficient business use of EVs.
Today, however, fast charging relies on strong grid access enabled by power lines, which are in short supply in industrial areas where there are typically fleet depots and along highway networks where fleet vehicles in transit may require rapid charging.
For fleet depots that require fast charging capabilities for interim recharging or fast vehicle turnaround times for the next use, local energy storage can give a power boost to fast chargers, eliminating short-term spikes in demand through peak shaving to reduce energy costs. Local storage can also supply power when demand exceeds the capacity of the local grid connection, avoiding the initial cost of site and grid upgrades.
Companies can also equip their fleet depots to use local renewable energy generation, usually solar panels, to supplement the grid’s energy supply. Local energy storage can help maximize the use of this renewable energy by storing energy produced when the weather is favorable and feeding that power back to chargers when needed. The combination of electric vehicle fleets and renewable energy can also help companies meet their decarbonisation targets.
2. Commercial and Industrial Facility Applications
There are a number of reasons why companies today should be interested in offering EV charging in their commercial or industrial facilities. EV charging stations can be installed in office buildings as a benefit for employees who need to charge their EVs at work rather than at home. EV chargers in destinations such as malls and restaurants can help attract visitors who shop or dine while their EVs are being charged. And EV chargers in warehouses or distribution facilities can be seen as an essential service offered to shippers who need to charge their trucks during loading/unloading.
Typically, companies partner with an EV charging network operator or e-mobility service provider that provides end-to-end solutions for planning, site preparation, installation and operation of the EV chargers. However, there is one caveat. Even without the added burden of EV charging, building owners today are challenged to manage electricity demand and costs while improving power reliability and quality.
By ensuring that the EV charging service provider they select includes local storage powered by second-hand EV batteries, businesses and building owners can rest assured that they have enough power for EV chargers, including DC fast chargers. , without disturbing the power quality for tenants or companies during work within the facility. Operators can also reduce utility demand by storing low-cost electricity taken from the grid at night or by storing on-site renewable energy produced on sunny days.
3. Renewable Energy Storage
Renewable energy accounts for a growing share of the electricity supply in countries around the world, and companies that buy their energy from clean, renewable sources can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint, reduce costs and meet the company’s environmental goals. But due to its weather dependent, intermittent nature, we cannot rely on renewables to provide 100% of our energy 100% of the time.
Local battery storage can help overcome these built-in limitations – whether the source is wind, solar or water – by storing energy when conditions are right and making it available when needed. By doing this, we can “close the gap” between when the energy is generated and when it is consumed. Local storage can be used by companies and building owners who want to use 100% renewable energy.
There is no doubt that electric vehicles are here to stay, and reuse of EV batteries for local storage will play an important role in the EV ecosystem. When EV batteries are reused for large-scale energy storage, we can maximize renewable energy reliability, balance grid demand and response, and reduce dependence on fossil fuel-fired power generation, in addition to avoiding the risks of dumping waste. It’s a win-win for businesses, EV owners and the health of the planet.