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The Second Coming

A huge swathe of batteries from older electric cars is about to become redundant. What should happen to EV batteries at the end of their useful life in a vehicle?


The environmental case

There is a growing movement to transition our economy from “make and waste” towards a “cradle to cradle” philosophy. Cradle-to-cradle is the term used in life-cycle analysis to describe a material or product that is recycled into a new product at the end of its life, so creating a circular economy and ultimately driving down waste. In essence, this means designing and manufacturing products so that they can be used, repurposed and used again, then finally recycled.

Given the environmental impact of mining the precious metals required to create lithium batteries, there is a strong case for finding ways to reuse or recycle these products. Unfortunately, the business case for recycling often does not stack up, leading to a market still in its very infancy and most lithium batteries from consumer electronics going to landfills.

A recent study¹ by the Journal of the Indian Institute of Science found that only 1% of lithium batteries are recycled in Europe and North America, compared to 99% of lead-acid batteries.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the total global capacity for recycling EV batteries is just 180,000t per year. It warns that, by 2040, there could be 1,300 gigawatt hours’ worth of batteries no longer suitable for EV use, far exceeding the recycling industry’s current capabilities.

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The growing market

In fact, experts are predicting a huge rise in the number of EV batteries that have finished their useful life in vehicles over the next few years.

Market analysts McKinsey² estimate that, in 2025, there will be 800m tonnes of EV batteries ending their first life applications. Naturally, this will only increase, mirroring the EV adoption curve. In 2035 this figure will grow to 3,400m tonnes and 7,300m tonnes by 2040.

The potential for positive environmental impact by reusing as many of these batteries as possible is enormous. In 2025, 800m tonnes amounts to circa 90m MWh of 2nd life battery capacity. Assuming that even 25% of these batteries are reusable, that would deliver estimated savings of 10,1250m tonnes of CO2 compared to using first life batteries.

The application

So, how can we bridge this gap between first life and recycling? McKinsey believes that the most cost-effective second life for EV batteries is in stationary energy storage – and this is where Connected Energy comes in.

We specialise in using second life EV batteries for energy storage applications, ranging from cost-effective ways of increasing available power at EV charging hubs to helping commercial buildings optimise their use of renewable energy.

Giving batteries a second life realises more value from the embedded resources and displaces the environmental impact of new battery production. It also delays recycling until the industry has developed more efficient and cost-effective processes, while also improving the overall economics for our transition from fossil fuels to all-electric vehicles.

Our battery-agnostic E-STOR systems breathe new life into second life batteries – aggregating them into one stationary energy storage system. Our technology is already working commercially at scale in the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Business case

At Connected Energy, our strategy has always been driven as much by the business case for energy storage as by the availability of batteries. Being early to market has placed us in a position where we are able to line up the whole value chain, being ready to scale up our systems as battery availability ramps up.

This in turn is advantageous to our OEM partners, including Renault and Volvo Energy, who want to see guaranteed second life use to help bring down the residual battery cost. And in the longer term, this helps consumers too by reducing battery costs which in turn will impact the price of the vehicles.

Our customers

For our customers, the second life story is key. Many of our customers are driven by decarbonisation goals and a Connected Energy system provides them with the confidence that a second life system provides a positive carbon benefit of 450tCO2e for every 1MWh installed compared with a first life energy storage unit.

As Ben Smith, Low Carbon Smart Building Specialist at the University of Sheffield AMRC North West, explained: “The reason we chose a Connected Energy system was the fact that they are made from using end-of-life EV batteries. One of the biggest problems with EVs is the process of extracting lithium ion and the fact that they can’t be disposed of properly at the moment. A Connected Energy system solves a major problem by maximising those resources in the battery and ensuring that they are not wasted.”

To find out more about how we can provide second life battery installations to meet your energy requirements, you can contact our team.


  1. Study says progress needed in lithium-ion battery recycling – Recycling today.
  2. Second-life EV batteries: The newest value pool in energy storage – McKinsey & Company:

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