The energy transition towards a sustainable energy model with the promotion of the integration of renewable energies and the electric vehicle is a reality. Initiatives such as the Green Deal promoted by the EU and the application of the PNIEC in Spain are clear accelerators of change. In this context, the role of storage by using lithium-ion batteries plays a critical role. For both mobility and stationary sectors, the electrification goes through a massive integration of this technology. This is covered in the Storage Strategy that MITECO has submitted for public consultation some time ago.
At BeePlanet we are committed to a transition towards a sustainable energy model, offering storage solutions by using second life li-ion batteries from electric vehicles with a clear focus: effective sustainability. Moreover, moving towards a sustainable energy model requires a rational use of resources.
Driven by the need of measuring the impact of our business, we recently presented the article “Socio-environmental impacts of first and second life batteries” at the Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, 15th SDEWES.
The article quantifies the savings in CO2 emissions because of the manufacture, operation, and later recycling of second life lithium-ion batteries for stationary use. The methodology behind our calculations relies on the review of Life Cycle Assessment studies. Finally, a comparison was made with the emissions generated for the manufacture of a new battery.
With the aim of gathering relevant information, several factors were analyzed: the impact of the raw materials, the environmental impacts associated with their extraction and the processes necessary for the manufacture of the battery. To this end, the contributions of the casing, BMS, assembly, transport and later recycling of the storage system were included. All of this is shown in the map of a battery’s manufacturing value chain:
In the methodology followed in our paper, two different calculation models are proposed depending on the nature of the battery (first life vs. second life). As can be seen in the following graph, the main contribution to the cost of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere due to the manufacture of a battery lies mainly on the manufacture of the cells, reaching practically 55% of the total. These percentages depend to a great extent on the chemistry, the process of material extraction, the energy mix of the country in which they are manufactured, among many others.
Through the second life, the impact of the emissions resulting from the manufacture of the cell is amortized, optimizing resources to the maximum.
The following graphs show the impact on CO2 emissions per kWh of capacity and the comparison of emissions for the different types of battery.
Therefore, with the manufacture of a second life battery a reduction of up to 75% of CO2 emissions is achieved compared to the manufacture of a new battery.
As a conclusion, it can be assured that reuse and repurpose are necessary operations to deal with GHG emissions. Circular economy models must be thus related to green energy generation technologies, sparking the beginnings of a virtuous circle for integral clean technology. In this regard, this paper aimed to demonstrate that second life of batteries from electric vehicles is one of the key factors in achieving a sustainable transition to energy storage at a big scale.