As California searches for cheap energy storage options, a new report by the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative at the UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools suggests that used EV batteries may be the ideal solution.
“Most batteries will retain much of their capacity and value after the use of the car,” said report author Ethan Elkind. “As a result, repurposing them can absorb excess renewable energy and dispatch it when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.”
According to the report, Reuse and Repower: How to Save Money and Clean the Grid with Second-Life Electric Vehicle Batteries, used electric car batteries could help California achieve its renewable energy goals, and could lower the cost of owning an EV.
“Electric cars and their batteries can benefit the electric grid in several ways,” said co-author Steven Weissman. “First, vehicle owners can be encouraged to charge at night to help smooth out the demand for power. Second, in-car batteries can provide active storage capacity that offers a modest amount of power back to the grid when needed. Finally, a large number of used batteries can be aggregated to become a storage bank managed by the grid operators. Each of these practices would help reduce the cost of buying an electric car.”
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California is experiencing a surge in renewable energy, but will face long-term economic and environmental challenges if it relies on these intermittent resources without deploying more energy storage, the authors write.
“Utilities can stack reused batteries to store excess power during times of heavy demand, which would provide substantial savings and reduce the need for costly fossil fuel-burning power plants,” Elkind said. “Large business entities such as hospitals or universities can use the batteries as bulk energy storage when the power goes out and the grid is prone to fail, or to offset high-expense energy stretches. Property owners can use repackaged individual batteries for backup power or to go off the grid entirely.”
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California accounts for more than 40 percent of US EV sales, and roughly half of the battery packs can be repurposed with 75 percent of their original capacity, according to the report. The authors urge state leaders to partner with automakers and utilities to develop more second-life battery demonstration projects in order to document the market potential for investors and companies.
Source: UCLA Law News