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Hyundai announces deal to build energy storage projects with used EV battery packs

Automakers have two main options when it comes to managing used electric vehicle battery packs: they can use them in energy storage applications or recycle them for the materials.

Hyundai announced a new deal today to do the former.

The Korean automaker has selected Wärtsilä, a technology company working on complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, to be “a technology and commercial partnership designed to utilize second-life electric vehicle (EV) batteries for the growing energy storage market.”

Dr. Youngcho Chi, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Technology Division and Chief Innovation Officer of Hyundai Motor Group, commented on the announcement:

Energy storage is the logical next step in the after-market use of EV batteries. 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.

Hyundai says that it is already developing a small 1 MWh energy storage system using Hyundai IONIQ Electric’s and Kia Soul EV’s second-life battery packs. The system, which is being deployed at Hyundai Steel’s factory, is going to serve as a demonstration project.

Electrek’s Take

It’s interesting that almost every automaker working on electric vehicles other than Tesla are reusing the packs instead of recycling them for the materials.

We recently reported on Mercedes-Benz turning a coal power plant into an energy storage system with electric car batteries.

BMW is also using vehicle battery packs for energy storage projects. They recently connected over 500 BMW i3 battery packs to the UK National Grid to create its latest large energy storage project to date.

Those are just a few examples. Renault is also using old Zoe battery packs for a home energy storage product and energy storage systems to power off-the-grid charging stations.

Also, Nissan recently unveiled stunning new streetlights powered by used Leaf battery packs and solar.

On the other hand, Tesla says that it prefers building battery packs especially for stationary energy storage and it has other plans for old vehicle battery packs.

The company instead plans to mine old battery packs for materials in order to build new ones. Last year, Tesla CTO JB Straubel said that Tesla already set up a recycling facility at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada and explained how Tesla prefers to mine used battery packs instead of actual minerals.

It’s interesting to see how companies are taking different approaches.

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