With an oil dependency of 96%, the transport sector is responsible for 25% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles are considered to be the main alternative to combustion-engine vehicles, with the demand for batteries expected to increase 14 times by 2030 on levels in 2018. Around 4.8% of the cars sold in 2020 were electric vehicles in Spain, which has set an objective of 5 million electric and hybrid vehicles circulating on Spanish roads by 2030.
Europe’s share of the lithium-ion battery market is currently around 3%, but it is estimated that battery production will increase to 464 000 tonnes by 2025, with an annual growth rate of 59%. A large number of batteries at the end of their useful life for electric-vehicle applications are already present in Europe, and these are managed as a waste stream. However, these batteries could have a second life in less demanding applications, for example, energy storage systems that are helping to increase the share of renewable energy.
Renewable energy is key to reaching Europe’s ambitious climate targets for 2050. In 2030, wind energy is forecast to be Europe’s largest source of electricity, providing 34% of gross electricity generation in all core policy scenarios, with solar energy having a share of 14%.
In Spain, wind energy provides 27 370 MW, around a quarter of the country’s 109 899 MW of installed power. The installed wind power is projected to increase to 40 000 MW by 2030 and 60 000 MW by 2050, while solar energy amounts to 10 210 MW of photovoltaic energy and 2 300 MW of thermosolar energy, accounting for 10.9% of the total installed power. Photovoltaic energy is forecast to grow to 39 000 MW by 2030. However, the renewable energy sector depends on meteorological conditions and continuous production is not assured. Energy storage solutions are therefore needed.
LIFE ReLiGHT has 2 objectives:
- To provide a second life for used electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries through their re-use as part of a battery energy storage solution integrated into wind and solar farms. Such re-use will lead to the development of a new type of hybrid renewable plant, providing a source of energy during periods when renewable sources are not guaranteed and therefore avoiding carbon-based energy sources.
- At the end of this extended lifetime of the batteries, the project will close the loop through a recycling strategy.
The project will develop a second-life energy storage system of 5.6 MW/11.2 MWh, which will be validated at the renewable plant of La Herrada (Albacete, Spain). This plant comprises a wind farm of 52.2 MW and a photovoltaic plant of 76.5 MWp. The actions will be implemented along the whole value chain of the batteries, including their receipt, testing and classification, the assembly of new battery packages, their integration into the renewable energy plant, the replacement of the batteries at the end of life and final recycling.
- Reduction of up to 102.31 tonnes of waste batteries through their transformation into new second-life products for stationary energy storage, thus extending their lifetime by 10 years.
- Reduction in the use of 4 GWh/year of primary energy and in the emission of 600 tonnes of CO2eq/year, as a result of the efficient operation and management of the renewable plant thanks to the project‘s battery energy storage system.
- Promotion of a sustainable recycling process of the second-life batteries at the end of their life, which entails separating and re-using their materials.
- Demonstration of the profitability of 3 business models tested in the project: curtailment and ancillary services, energy balance service and capacity market service.