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The Biggest Challenge To Second-Life Battery Adoption?

Last Thursday evening, around 50 energy professionals gathered at Mercedes Benz North America for a panel on second-life lithium ion battery applications. As one of the newest players to the second-life market, Mercedes was an ideal host for the event. In September, Daimler AG announced that they would be partnering with The Mobility House AG and GETEC to build a 13 MWh storage facility in Lünen, Westphalia. Moderated by Candice Yu from Daimler’s policy and strategic planning division, the panel included four experts from the energy storage field: Michael Worry, CEO of Nuvation Energy, Eva Diess, VP of Vehicle-Grid Integration at The Mobility House, Dr. Sungbae Park, Director of the Battery Group in Palo Alto, and FreeWire’s very own Arcady Sosinov.

Arcady kicked off the discussion by giving the audience a peek into FreeWire’s experience with second-life batteries. “We never started out with the explicit purpose of working with second-life,” he told the crowd. “But it was the only option at the time, since new lithium-ion batteries were sold at a premium to small-scale developers.” Arcady went on to explain that technological barriers can be tackled through diligent research and development, yet it is the policy and regulatory landscape that second-life battery product developers need to keep an eye on. Arcady cited the exclusion of second-life batteries from SGIP(Self-Generation Incentive Program) and other regulatory hurdles as an example of this.

Others on the panel chimed in to reiterate these ideas. Nuvation Energy CEO Michael Worry called second-life battery obstacles “100% economic,” meaning that the policy incentives for using new batteries, and technological investment needed to make the second-life viable, always lead back to economic concerns. The other panelists agreed with Michael’s assessment.

Despite second-life batteries’ economic roadblocks, the discussion ended on a bright note. With the price of new lithium dropping and second-life research becoming more commonplace, opportunities are arising for new and used batteries all the time. As Arcady told the crowd early on, “if we had this chat two years ago, only a handful of you would be here. If we have this chat two years from now, the crowd will likely double or triple in size.”

Young Professionals in Energy‘s event last Thursday proved that there is a growing interest in the second-life space, energy storage, and the advancement of lithium ion batteries as a whole.

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