With electric vehicles increasing in popularity and mobile phones and laptops among the technologies most frequently discarded at the end of their life, figuring out what to do with batteries is becoming a more pressing issue.
Batteries — while potentially harmful when sent to landfill — contain a number of useful materials, such as lithium and cobalt, that can be reused to make other batteries down the line. Extracting those materials can be a challenge, though.
But Volvo has teamed up with U.K.-based company Connected Energy to create battery energy storage systems (BESS) from its EV batteries that can then be used to store power for domestic purposes.
Alongside the recovery of materials from batteries found in machines used by Volvo, it is hoped the process will deliver both economic and environmental benefits.
CEO of Connected Energy Matthew Lumsden said the deal “is an exciting next step” in its existing partnership with Volvo and toward its sustainability goals.
“In the coming years, the volumes of returning batteries from first life applications will substantially increase,” Lumsden said in a statement. “This represents a key opportunity for [original equipment manufacturers] like Volvo Group. Together we have the potential to develop and commercialize second life energy storage systems that make electric vehicles (EVs) even more sustainable.”
According to Power Technology, the development of more BESS will be a huge boost for the renewable energy sector. Taking data from a Sky News report in March, Power Technology noted that British energy transmission company National Grid spent nearly $260 million on switching off wind turbines during peak hours because of the risk of overload in the system.
The ability to store excess power could provide a solution to this issue, stopping waste of clean, sustainable power production that emits zero harmful gases into the atmosphere.
With EV batteries keeping 80% of their storage capacity when they reach the end of their optimal use, the potential to recycle these batteries could be huge in terms of sustainability.
“Repurposing the batteries in line with circular economy principles is good for the environment, good for the consumer, and good for the Volvo Group,” senior vice president of sales and services for Volvo Energy Elisabeth Larsson said in a statement.
“Our ambition for a deepened collaboration with Connected Energy announced today will be a key milestone in our mission to move from a linear business model to a circular one by optimizing the batteries’ full life cycle whilst creating a product that will enable the transition to a world powered by renewable energy.”
Connected Energy and Volvo have said the first prototype BESS from recycled EV batteries will begin development sometime toward the end of 2023, with hopes to bring the technology to the European market by 2025.
According to an Expert Market Research study, the global battery recycling market could be valued at $17.8 billion by 2028, demonstrating that the process is not only good for the environment, but can be incredibly lucrative, too.
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