Storage and Flexibility Net Zero Series: Second Life Batteries

Published: 10 June 2020

UK targets to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050 require a rapid transition from fossil fuel-powered to electric vehicles (EVs). This presents a significant opportunity to reuse batteries that have come to the end of their usable life within vehicles, as stationary storage.

The Storage and Flexibility: Second Life Batteries report has reviewed which services second life batteries could offer, the cost of refurbishment and technical performance. Policy and regulatory barriers to second life battery deployment were also identified. A model was developed for a case study that evaluated the performance of second-life batteries versus new ones and other energy storage technologies. The case study chosen was a microgrid in an area representative of a town in South Wales.

This report is part of the Innovating to Net Zero programme. Energy Systems Catapult has carried out a number of deep dives into the technologies potentially needed to achieve the UK government’s 2050 net zero emissions targets – such as nuclear, digitalisation and storage and flexibility.

Key points

The key findings from Storage and Flexibility: Second Life Batteries analysis are:

  • The ‘second life battery’ market could benefit from current lithium ion battery recycling infrastructure being ill-suited (in terms of maturity and cost-effectiveness) to deal with large volumes of retired first life batteries
  • Second life batteries are likely to be cheaper than new batteries
  • Other factors, such as EV supply chain, must also be considered. For example, there are unlikely to be enough second life batteries from UK-based EVs to meet peak demand until around 2040.