One of the many topics we discussed during the dinner last week with Gary Smyth and Nick Zielinski was end-of-life for batteries. As we all know batteries don't last forever and we can't dump them in landfills. Just because a battery doesn't have enough capacity to be useful for a car, it doesn't mean they have no value.
Although power sources like wind, solar and tidal are infinitely renewable and clean, their main drawback is lack of continuity. Unlike a gas or coal fired power station that goes as long as you feed it, the sun obviously doesn't shine twenty four hours a day on one spot. The same goes for wind and, to a lesser degree, tidal power. One possible solution is to create huge banks of batteries to store electrical energy when the sun shines or the wind blows and then send it out at night or when the air is calm.
That's were used hybrid and electric car batteries come in. PG&E in California is experimenting with using used batteries to store and release electricity for use during peak output times and when energy from green sources is unavailable. If electrical utility companies start to buy up used but still useful batteries that could take out some of the sting of replacement costs and reduce pressure on car makers to create electric vehicles with batteries that last the life of the car. If the battery only has to have a life in the vehicle of 50,000 rather than 100,000 miles and the replacement cost is reduced by being able to trade in the old battery, the segment could potentially grow much faster.
[Source: Green Wombat via Hugg]