EV Batteries See Second Life as Energy Storage

January 11, 2024 by Claire Turvill

UK-based Allye and SYNETIQ will collaborate to repurpose electric vehicle battery packs to produce battery energy storage systems.

The surge in electric vehicle (EV) sales may combat climate change, but their lithium-ion batteries present distinct challenges. Used batteries generate harmful waste during processing and can pose an environmental threat if left in the landfill at end-of-life. But what if retired EV batteries could help build energy storage infrastructure to support the grid?


Battery energy storage systems

Battery energy storage systems. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock


If properly managed, the materials in waste EV batteries can be reused across the energy sector. In the United Kingdom, Allye and SYNETIQ are collaborating to repurpose EV battery packs as energy storage systems to support local grid resilience and increase access to renewable energy.

The joint venture combines the specialties of Allye, a startup specializing in intelligent battery energy storage, and SYNETIQ, a vehicle salvaging and recycling company. Allye will use discarded EV batteries acquired from SYNETIQ to produce the MAX battery energy storage system (BESS), a 300 kWh self-learning energy storage as a service.

The companies claim the MAX BESS will reduce clients’ energy costs by 50 percent and assist with decarbonization.


Repurposing EV Batteries

Allye and SYNETIQ’s method of repurposing entire EV battery packs represents a sustainable method of large-scale energy storage as it maximizes using finite resources. Worn-out EV batteries receive a renewed life in providing energy storage.

Allye will use diagnostic testing to evaluate the battery packs acquired from SYNETIQ to recover as many usable packs as possible. The Allye MAX BESS can integrate battery cells with diverse chemistries, varied voltage ranges, different capacities, and varying states of health to prioritize flexibility and circularity.

The Allye MAX is the first BESS to integrate various lithium-ion battery types from different chemistries within a single system, marking a significant breakthrough in energy storage technology.


Cutting EV Battery Waste and Emissions

The infrastructure to recycle retired lithium-ion batteries is in the early stages but is starting to grow in anticipation of rising demand. 

Incorporating retired EV batteries into commercial energy storage systems has the potential to reduce waste and cut carbon dioxide emissions by diverting lithium-ion batteries from landfills and minimizing the necessity for new manufacturing. 

SYNETIQ will provide batteries sourced from vehicles that have been prematurely written off as beyond economical repair. These are generally less than five years old and contain battery packs that, if undamaged, retain a significant remaining useful life. Allye estimates that each repurposed pack directly lessens overall carbon dioxide emissions by eliminating the need to produce a new battery pack. This can save more than seven tons of carbon dioxide emissions for a typical 75 kWh pack and restores the value of a functional battery already circulating in the U.K. economy.

SYNETIQ and Allye intend to repurpose over 4,000 EV battery packs over the next five years, for an estimated 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide saved in the process.


Scaling EV Battery Recycling Internationally

While the companies have yet to release plans to develop a similar repurposing solution outside of the U.K., the technology may present a recycling opportunity for EV batteries and provide support for the renewable energy transition internationally. 


Recycling capacity versus project end-of-life EV battery materials in the U.S.

Recycling capacity versus project end-of-life EV battery materials in the U.S. Image used courtesy of the International Council on Clean Transportation


In the United States, the existing recycling capacity for EV batteries adequately manages the materials from end-of-life batteries. However, if this capacity remains unchanged, projections suggest that by 2035, the recycling needs for these batteries might surpass the available capacity, leading to potential deficits in meeting the recycling requirements.

Introducing recycling alternatives increases the likelihood of both the adoption and effectiveness of recycling processes.