Analysis of the Combined Vehicle- And Post-Vehicle-Use Value Of Lithium-Ion Plug-In Vehicle Propulsion Batteries


California’s promising market for the widespread introduction of plug‐in vehicles exists due to advances in electric‐drive technology such as lithium‐ion batteries and the development of strong policy drivers including California’s Global Warming Solutions Act. However, high battery costs continue to present a significant hurdle to commercialization. This report builds upon previous research that examined the potential to lower battery lease payments by repurposing used vehicle batteries for stationary use as distributed electrical storage devices to support the grid. Such devices might provide valuable services needed by existing statewide grid‐support markets if they could be used as home energy storage appliances. They could also provide customer‐side‐of‐the‐meter benefits, improve utility operation, help defer costly grid upgrades, and potentially support the profitability and penetration of intermittent renewable energy. This report advanced methods for analyzing combined vehicular and post‐vehicular value using specific plug‐in electric vehicle examples, used updated and refined inputs based on a growing body of knowledge, and described lessons learned about testing and repurposing vehicle batteries for post‐vehicle use.   It analyzed offsetting plug‐in‐vehicle battery costs with value derived from post‐vehicle stationary use, quantifying the possible effect that net‐present value of several of these benefits might have on battery lease payments. This analysis found positive but modest potential benefits from repurposing batteries into energy‐storage devices sized in accordance with their degraded capacity following their life in the vehicle. The analysis indicated that if valuable grid‐regulation revenues are hotly contested and provide limited impetus to commercializing home energy storage appliances, value from multiple applications is necessary to make them profitable. The combination of services and thus load profiles or varying electrical loads is therefore a critical uncertainty. Another important uncertainty was the cost associated with power‐conditioning requirements, which must also be optimized while taking into account increasingly specific combined load profiles.

Brett Williams
Timothy Lipman, PhD
Publication date: 
February 1, 2012
Publication type: