With battery recycling becoming a growing worry for environmentalists, some car companies are moving forward in bringing viable and cost-effective solutions to the market.
Today, Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) revealed that the company has selected Wärtsilä - a major player in the world's energy business - for a technology and commercial partnership designed to utilize second-life electric vehicle (EV) batteries for the growing energy storage market. The partnership is slated to combine Hyundai's growing electric vehicle production efforts with Wärtsilä’s growing energy business that includes 67 GW of installed power plants and advanced energy storage technologies and software that was just recently acquired through the acquisition of Greensmith Energy.
The business model is simple, yet creative: the partnership will create a specific product range, creating advanced energy storage products and platforms that give HMG’s used EV batteries a second life, becoming a part of Wärtsilä’s existing customer and channel networks across 177 countries globally. Wärtsilä is most notably slated to create energy production plants with available large capacity storage options for some of the world's most demanding markets. One of their latest projects includes a 130 MW Flexicycle power plant that will help Senegal lower energy costs and integrate more renewable energy. Integrating a large capacity storage point, supplementing these kinds of power plants with solar and wind power, makes for a smart move.
“Energy storage is the logical next step in the after-market use of EV batteries,” said Dr. Youngcho Chi, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Technology Division and Chief Innovation Officer of Hyundai Motor Group. “By repurposing resource-intensive products like EV batteries, we eliminate disposal costs and extend the value of the R&D investment that goes into manufacturing the technology. HMG is strengthening its leadership in clean technology and sustainability by participating in the new energy business.”
By 2025, estimates run to a level where 29 GWh of second-life EV batteries available. This far exceeds the size of today’s stationary storage market, with 10 GWh currently available for storage application. This vast availability of storage capacity is what the partnership between HMG and Wärtsilä aims to capitalize on.
“Wärtsilä through the capabilities and integration experience of Greensmith Energy, will develop a cleaner and more powerful approach to second-life battery applications for Hyundai Motor Group,” said Javier Cavada, President of Wärtsilä Energy Solutions. “Our strategic partnership with Hyundai Motor Group represents the life-cycle vision Wärtsilä strives to deliver to our customers and partners around the world. Incorporating second-life-EV batteries into our energy and integration business underscores our deep commitment to building sustainable societies with smart technologies.”
Hyundai is currently developing a 1MWh-level ESS (Energy Storage System) that utilizes Hyundai IONIQ Electric’s and Kia Soul EV’s second-life battery. Using its proprietary technology, the company has already implemented a demonstration project in Hyundai Steel’s factory.
While everything regarding this matter starts and finishes with electric cars, partnerships like these hit the two key aspects of the EV production cycle - recycling and reuse - quite efficiently. Partnerships like these help both the ecology aspect and pad the company's bottom line, but they also bring solutions that will clearly help some of the poorest countries in the world. Cheap & affordable energy production, combined with efficient energy storage, could mean improved quality of life, better living standards and a happier place for a lot of people in some of the poorest countries in the world. Just like in the 1950's, the car will once again be the driving force behind prosperity in various parts of the world. At least indirectly.
If you have time, grab a look and listen to the Google TechTalk about "Post and Beyond Lithium-Ion Materials and Cells for Electrochemical Energy Storage" right below.