2nd Life for Electric Vehicle Batteries?

Second life for electric car batteries? No, it’s not a world of electric virtual avatars–it’s a plan under development by Duke Energy and Tokyo-based cleantech ITOCHU to develop applications for spent car batteries. Apparently, these two companies believe that after the batteries set to power the next generation of green cars end their useful life as far as autos go, they can go on to have other lives in other applications, such as supplemental home energy supply, renewable power storage and fast-charging power for electric vehicles (EVs).

According to some auto industry estimates, electric vehicle (EV) batteries that can no longer charge to approximately 80 percent of their original capacity may be candidates for replacement. Both Duke Energy and ITOCHU were involved in a large-scale public/private EV pilot program based in Indianapolis known as Project Plug-IN, which apparently inspired the companies to study the second-life market for EV batteries.

electric vehicles

image via GM

ITOCHU and Duke Energy plan to work together to assess how such EV batteries perform in stationary applications in homes, neighborhoods and commercial buildings, validating potential business models for future commercialization. If successful, the companies believe that this “after market” for batteries could help reduce initial battery cost (which, in turn, would lower the cost of EVs).

It should be noted as well this isn’t the only attempt to make second life use out of electric vehicle batteries. Similar projects are happening with the likes of Nissan, for example, as well.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.