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Tech2.28.2024
8 min read

Phased-out EV batteries get a new life in energy storage

Tech2.28.2024
8 min read

Phased-out EV batteries get a new life in energy storage

At Einride, sustainable freight goes beyond enabling shippers to curb significant volumes of CO2e emissions – it also extends to the domain of circularity. One such initiative involves repurposing batteries that have been phased out from Einride’s electric fleet. Instead of being out on the road, the batteries will exist in a stationary form at Einride Smartcharger Stations to store renewable energy. 

Second-life battery energy storage systems (BESS) represent a pivotal innovation in the quest for sustainability within the energy sector. Not only do they see the repurposing of used batteries that would otherwise be discarded – oftentimes to landfill, awaiting recycling – they can also contribute to cost-effective charging solutions.

Einride is furthering the benefits of BESS via advanced digital capabilities. By connecting data from a range of essential domains, the intelligent freight operating system Einride Saga will further unlock more cost-effective charging and other benefits, such as prolonging the longevity of batteries.

What are battery energy storage systems?

BESS are systems that store electrical energy using rechargeable batteries, with the ability to release that energy when needed. They typically encompass both hardware and software components and can perform several supportive functions to the electrical grid. This can include storing surplus electricity when supply exceeds demand and discharging stored energy when demand exceeds supply, and helping to balance the electrical grid by providing ancillary services that improve its reliability and efficiency.

Technologies for battery storage are key to speeding up the transition to electric transportation, as they can help relieve the electrical grid on its path toward integrating additional intermittent energy resources. BESS are set to play an important role at Einride Smartcharger Stations, where they will support the provision of cost-effective charging for Einride fleets as well as for public charging – i.e. light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles operated by other businesses or the general public. 

Battery energy storage systems can be comprised of first-life batteries and/or second-life batteries. First-life systems are those containing previously unused batteries, while second-life systems are those containing batteries that have already been used. 

Rosersberg Station

Phased-out batteries to live their BESS life at Rosersberg, Sweden

As part of an innovation pilot, batteries from within Einride’s fleet of heavy-duty electric vehicles are being repurposed as second-life battery energy storage systems; these vehicles had been operated by Einride to move goods for shipper clients in parts of Europe. 

While the batteries had been phased out from usage on the road, it was apparent to the Einride team that they could be given a second life due to their state of health. The BESS created as part of the pilot will be established at the Einride Smartcharger Station in Rosersberg, on the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden. 

Einride’s General Manager Energy & Charging Infrastructure, David Hallgren, says the initiative leverages the integrated nature of Einride’s solution: “We are working to make truly efficient use of resources across the transportation ecosystem. Many companies are involved in efforts to drive circularity of EV batteries, but we are uniquely positioned to excel here, as we have full visibility into the corresponding freight demand, vehicle telematics, and other data points. By knowing what we need on the charging side, we can work out how to best repurpose what resources we already have.”

By knowing what we need on the charging side, we can work out how to best repurpose what resources we already have.

David Hallgren General Manager Energy & Charging Infrastructure, Einride

Einride is also involved in a research project funded by the Swedish Innovation Agency (Vinnova) focusing on Battery Life Cycle Management in Charging Networks. The project aims to demonstrate the potential benefits and challenges of using decommissioned vehicle batteries as energy storage systems. It explores technological challenges and systemic economic and environmental effects, as well as logistical and financial benefits or challenges.

What are the benefits of second-life BESS?

Among the benefits of second-life battery energy storage systems are more cost-effective operations – including more cost-effective supply of renewable energy – and the fact that they extend the duration of time that a battery can be good for use, making them advantageous from a circularity perspective. 

Some might ask: “Why not just recycle batteries?” Electric truck batteries can be recycled, but it is costly as the EV battery recycling process is currently in its infancy. The current reality for many operators is that batteries that are “retired” will go to landfill for storage, with a view to being recycled at a later point in time when EV battery recycling technology has matured and the process is more economical. Even once that becomes the reality, the repurposing of batteries as BESS will remain beneficial for the circular economy – as it prolongs the useful life of a battery, with recycling being the final stage.

The number of batteries that Einride could repurpose as BESS is set to increase swiftly, as Einride’s Director of Energy Solutions, Marie Knutsen-Öy, explains: “Einride is currently operating some of the largest fleets of electric heavy-duty vehicles in Europe and North America. Given the impending increase in the quantity of batteries being phased out, it's crucial that we prioritize the development of cost-efficient methods to utilize these resources effectively. This approach is essential to ensure we're doing our best to serve the circular economy.”

Our approach goes beyond the basics. It’s about practical efficiency and innovation in energy management.

Marie Knutsen-Öy Director of Energy Solutions, Einride

David Hallgren says giving batteries a second life at charging stations supports Einride’s core business. “Einride provides its shipper customers with cost-effective, sustainable and reliable movement of goods, and this requires smart, data-driven use of renewable energy – which BESS will support. We are also glad to provide convenient and cost-effective charging to other businesses, such as carriers or shippers with their own vehicles, via our Einride Smartcharger Stations.”

Why are truck batteries phased out?

Battery states are most commonly measured using two distinct indicators. State of charge (SOC) refers to the amount of electricity remaining in a specific battery in relation to the maximum charge that a battery can deliver (thus indicating how “charged” a battery is). State of health (SOH) refers to the maximum charge of a specific battery in relation to the amount of charge that battery is rated for (thus indicating how “worn” a battery is).

Over time, the state of health of the battery degrades. Eventually, after a certain amount of cell degradation, the battery can’t store enough energy to make usage in its original use case a profitable trade-off – often that’s around the 70-80% SOH mark. In certain instances, a battery may be deemed unsuitable for a vehicle but still eligible for use in other applications. In other words, they’re being repurposed from on-road settings to off-road settings. 

Electric page - Charging

Unlocking cost-effective public charging with BESS

The cost-efficiencies of BESS, when it comes to managing electricity consumption and charging, are made available through a range of techniques, including smart operating modes. Systems can switch between different operating modes based on changing conditions, needs of the energy grid, or objectives of the energy storage application. These include:

  • Peak shaving (also referred to as peak shedding or load shedding): A type of operating mode that involves proactively managing demand quickly and for a short period of time to avoid a spike in consumption. For example, businesses or homeowners may use technologies that regulate their generators, heat pumps or appliances depending on electricity prices, or they may activate their own battery system(s) to support this. 

  • Load shifting (or demand shifting): The process of shifting electricity consumption from peak to off-peak hours with the aim of leveling out the demand for electricity across a period of time, thus reducing or preventing peak loads. At Einride Smartcharger Stations, this is facilitated through smart usage of BESS – enabled by the freight operating system Einride Saga – as well as through dynamic pricing of public charging, which incentivizes charging during non-peak hours.

Additionally, there are a number of market opportunities, including:

  • Ancillary services: Where businesses can supply supportive services (for example, frequency regulation) to the electrical grid in order to help the operator maintain its balance. This can involve either increasing or decreasing consumption/production at a given point in time.

  • Energy arbitrage: A strategy commonly employed in the context of electricity markets and battery energy storage systems (BESS). It involves buying electricity when prices are low and storing it for later use, such as when prices are highest.

  • Flexibility markets: Flexibility trading involves swapping energy and capacity in a local market to more efficiently – and more flexibly – utilize the full potential of the local electrical grid. By integrating different technologies, flexibility markets can help to incentivize positive changes within that energy system.

These are just a few examples of strategies and opportunities available when it comes to leveraging the potential of BESS. Einride is constantly assessing new possibilities as additional capabilities arise and as markets evolve.

Einride Saga: Maximizing the potential of BESS

Einride is elevating the impact of BESS – both with respect to cost-effective operations and environmental benefits – by harnessing advanced digital intelligence. The freight operating system Einride Saga gathers all of the transportation demand, connects all the vehicles, and connects all the chargers. By aggregating these three domains of data, Saga can map out charging schedules in a way that satisfies the respective and surrounding transportation requests, all while accommodating the best outcomes for drivers and vehicle batteries. At the same time, with the help of BESS located at Einride Smartcharger Stations, it is able to manage the supply of energy in order to ensure cost-effectiveness. 

Marie Knutsen-Öy says that by leveraging BESS to its fullest potential, Einride is doing much more than offering convenient charging schedules and cost-effective pricing: “Our approach goes beyond the basics. We're strategically managing energy assets by minimizing power peaks, adjusting loads, and making smart trades across various power markets. This optimized strategy benefits both customers and extends the battery's lifespan. It's about practical efficiency and innovation in energy management.”

“We’re excited to see how the latest digital capabilities, advanced charging infrastructure and battery energy storage systems can come together to power up a new era of freight mobility.”

Learn more about Einride’s intelligent charging solutions and read about the first Einride Smartcharger Station. To keep up to date with new stations opening soon, be sure to subscribe to Einride’s newsletter.

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