Why EV battery recycling is good for the environment and your bottom line

by | May 22, 2024

In the first quarter of 2024, electric car sales grew by about 25% compared with the first quarter of 2023, similar to the year-on-year growth seen in the same period in 2022. By the end of 2024, the market share of electric cars could reach up to 45% in China, 25% in Europe and more than 11% in the United States, underpinned by competition among manufacturers, falling battery and car prices, and ongoing policy support.

The growth of EV sales will require more batteries and critical raw materials. Demand for graphite, lithium and cobalt is expected to increase by nearly 500% by 2050. Relying on new batteries alone will not satisfy market needs nor make progress on creating a more sustainable future.

EV adoption is growing globally.
The good news is that former electric vehicle batteries still maintain 70-80% of their capacity. Used electric vehicle batteries can still provide enough power for onsite commercial battery storage systems. This creates an opportunity for charge point operators (CPOs), auto manufacturers and fleets to repurpose batteries in depot storage for EV charging. Extending the life cycle of EV batteries reduces the need to mine for materials while maximizing battery return on investment for valuable economic and environmental benefits.

Why the typical battery recycling process can cause the weakest cells to drag down the usable capacity of the entire battery pack, Sparkion’s revolutionary technology helps clients get the most out of used EV batteries by generating more energy per cycle to reduce BESS cost-per-kWh by as much as 60% and cutting CapEx cost by half.

Meeting increasing power demand economically and sustainably

While EVs can provide a cleaner, more affordable alternative in the face of rising gas prices, high utility charges and the increasing demand for more power can be counteractive to their advantages.

As EV adoption grows, the demand for electricity at charging sites will follow suit. Electric vehicles could account for 6% to 8% of total electricity demand by 2035, up from 0.5% currently. Charging sites must provide a steady flow of reliable electricity to fuel EVs. However, the grid may not always be able to supply enough available power, especially when it comes to fast charging. Even if it can, overdrawing past your grid limit could result in high demand charges that could squash profit margins.

Instead of upgrading transformers and other grid components immediately, battery energy storage systems (BESS) paired with onsite renewable energy and EV charging stations can handle increased loads, spreading the costs over a longer period and avoiding large upfront capital expenditures. That’s why charging depots and enterprises from EVs to C&I to utilities and more are investing in energy storage to reduce operating expenses and maintain vehicle uptime with cost-efficient, resilient energy.

For example, scheduling when you’re using grid energy in light of utility time-of-use rates can help you better manage electricity expenses. Also, using battery power to help meet peak site electricity needs can reduce utility demand charges. Don’t have enough available grid power to supply your site loads? Your BESS can provide the boost you need to charge quicker without investing in infrastructure upgrades. Better still, when you charge your batteries with the solar or other clean power you produce onsite, you enjoy even more cost-effective, reliable, operations while demonstrating your commitment to the environment. From peak shaving to load shifting, load management and more, the many use cases of a BESS collectively contribute to a more cost-efficient and robust charging infrastructure.

The benefits of EV battery recycling

Reusing old batteries from your own EVs in your BESS only amplifies the system’s benefits to maximize your storage investment.

Maximize ROI

Repurposing EV batteries in your BESS can provide even more value through reduced costs and better EV charging. Repurposed EV batteries are often cheaper than new batteries, which reduces the initial investment required for the BESS, further cutting down the operating costs. Also, if the charging site is integrated with renewable energy sources such as solar or wind, a BESS can store excess clean energy generated during peak production times. This stored energy can then be used for charging EVs even when renewable generation is low (such as during the night or on cloudy days). Intelligent use of renewable energy sources increases the efficiency of the charging process.

Fleet owners are in a unique position to reduce energy and BESS costs by repurposing their own battery inventory. EV fleets regularly cycle through vehicles, leading to a steady supply of used batteries that still retain significant capacity. Instead of discarding or recycling these batteries elsewhere, fleets can repurpose them for their own BESS applications. This not only extends the batteries’ useful life but also reduces the need to purchase new batteries for energy storage, significantly lowering costs

Repurposing your own batteries creates a new circular journey for fleet owners that can reduce power costs and increase energy resiliency.

Reduce effects on the environment

Rather than using more new batteries, recycling EV batteries into a BESS reduces waste and prevents additional Earth mineral depletion, enhancing your sustainability efforts and economics. Pairing your BESS with onsite clean energy can even further your impact.

Repurposed EV batteries can qualify for green incentives, grants or rebates. These financial incentives can lower the overall cost of implementing and operating a BESS. Repurposed batteries also comply with regulatory requirements related to waste reduction and energy efficiency.

A good energy management system will allow BESS owners to automate optimization of stored energy use across your EV charging stations.

Why choose Sparkion as your EV battery recycling partner?

Not all second-life storage solutions are the same. Typically, the weakest cell in an EV battery storage unit pulls down the available capacity of the entire battery pack so that healthy modules can not be used to their full potential. This limits economic efficiency and ROI.

Sparkion's SparkSwitch technology allows getting more capacity out of a battery energy storage system that uses recycled EV batteries.
However, Sparkion’s roots are in battery storage hardware. Our patented SparkSwitch™ technology allows bypassing weak cells to generate more energy per cycle. The weakest cell only affects the specific battery modules and not the entire pack. With this technology built into each of our Sparkion S1 battery module units we can increase capacity and reduce the BESS cost-per-kWh by as much as 60% while cutting CapEx cost to half of competitive solutions.
Our vast experience with and deep understanding of electrical infrastructure also allowed us to design the SparkCore™, a better energy management system including software and controller. No matter the manufacturer, chemistry or state of health, Sparkion’s AI-driven battery management system solution can recycle EV batteries into energy storage systems for EV charging. The flexible, AI-driven SparkCore™ collects and analyzes site and other third-party grid and weather data using proprietary algorithms customized to operate according to the initiatives you’ve set for your business. SparkCore™ uses real-time monitoring to control the BESS and make the most out of battery storage across the site. In this way, Sparkion can maximize investments and minimize harmful effects on the environment with second-life EV batteries.

To learn more about the benefits of using second-life EV batteries, schedule a demo with our team.

Arnon Becker

Arnon is a dedicated energy management specialist with extensive experience in optimizing procurement and assembly procedures. As Operations Manager at Sparkion since 2022, he excels in managing US and EU production lines and maintaining high standards in energy storage solutions. With a strong focus on innovation and sustainability, Arnon aims to advance the energy industry through efficient and effective management practices.

Connect with Arnon on LinkedIn.

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