The second life of batteries

The second life of batteries

eMOBILITY

Has your electric car’s battery come to the end of its life? Don’t throw it away! ŠKODA has come up with a clever solution for “dead” batteries.

3. 11. 2022

Sustainable production and use of cars throughout their entire life cycle – this is the current aspiration of all manufacturers. ŠKODA is serious about sustainability and is taking a number of smart and innovative steps to reduce its carbon footprint.

One interesting solution that the Czech carmaker has come up with is a way to use old batteries that have already served their time in electric cars and plug-in hybrids. It would be a great pity to simply throw them away.

Used batteries from ENYAQ iV test prototypes are used as energy storage devices at a public charging station in Chodov, Prague.

The capacity of batteries in electric cars in normal use should not fall below seventy per cent in the first eight years or 160,000 kilometres. Once a battery has reached the end of its life in a car for whatever reason, it has a second life - as a stationary store of electricity.

They can be used, for example, by ŠKODA dealers as part of the charging stations at their showrooms or to power lighting and air conditioning in sales and service centres. These batteries are not only from the all-electric ENYAQ iV, but also from the plug-in hybrids OCTAVIA iV, OCTAVIA RS iV and SUPERB iV.

The project’s partner is PRE, which is thus testing the use of repositories as an alternative way to strengthen the grid.

Longer-lasting than you’d think

A pilot project to reuse batteries from electric vehicles has shown one interesting thing: their capacity in stationary storage only decreases by about two per cent per year. This extends the overall lifetime of the batteries to up to fifteen years, significantly reducing the carbon footprint. And what happens when even this second service life of car batteries comes to an end? They proceed to a controlled recycling process, with the recovered raw materials then used to make new batteries.

The stationary storage capacity is up to 300 kWh, so even fast charging stations of up to 240 kW can be powered. Smart systems also store green electricity that is generated by, for example, a dealer’s photovoltaic system and is not used at the time and would otherwise be surplus. Storing this electricity makes it available at any time, regardless of the weather or the current load on the local electricity grid. Another advantage is that stationary energy storage can be individually scaled, and used batteries can be replaced in a few simple steps if necessary. Over four thousand of these sustainable electricity storage units are to be built in the next few years.

More on the second life of batteries can be heard on the Simply Clever podcast:

Energy storage facilities also enable the development of charging infrastructure in places where it otherwise wouldn’t be technically feasible to build large numbers of charging stations. Before being deployed in a storage facility, the batteries undergo a capacity test consisting of a full charge and discharge, a visual test and a communication test.

ŠKODA also utilises used electric-car batteries at its showrooms’ charging stations.

Batteries from prototypes for 12 electric cars

Used batteries from ENYAQ iV cars - in this case from test prototypes, not production cars - are already used for energy storage in a public charging station in Prague’s Chodov district. Its capacity is 300 kWh, which significantly reduces the demands on the distribution system. The partner in this project is Pražská energetika (PRE), which is testing the use of battery storage as an alternative way of strengthening the distribution network without building a new cable network. Up to twelve electric vehicles can be charged at the same time – ten with an output of 22 kW and two on an ultra-fast 150 kW station.

DSC_0531_a4ba1834The capacity of batteries in stationary storage facilities decreases by just two per cent a year, which extends the battery’s useful life by up to fifteen years.

Needless to say, a lot of attention is paid to safety. The battery modules originally approved for use in vehicles are themselves very robust, and there are active safety features in the storage unit itself that monitor a number of parameters. Just in case, the storage unit has a fire valve so the battery compartment can be completely flooded and cooled.

Batteries for the whole group

ŠKODA began producing battery packs for Volkswagen Group’s electric vehicles based on the the MEB platform in Mladá Boleslav in May this year. Annual capacity now stands at over 250,000 units and is set to rise to 380,000 units annually by the end of next year. The ENYAQ iV is assembled right next to the battery production line – so the batteries are literally “just around the corner”. Batteries made in Mladá Boleslav are also installed in other Volkswagen, Audi and SEAT vehicles. Concentrating the production of this key component in the Mladá Boleslav plant represents an important milestone in the Czech carmaker’s journey towards full electromobility.