What is a second life battery?

Batteries aren’t dead when they come to the end of their useful first life. Second life batteries are batteries that can be applied for different usage after their initial lifecycle has come to an end. Giving a second life to batteries, by reusing them in different but still effective ways, also leads to economic benefits. The development of viable second life batteries and battery packs can reduce the amount of waste and also prevent the additional depletion of Earth’s minerals. As part of the ecosystem of solutions for the energy transition, storage and batteries are tools to enable sustainability and, at the same time, they themselves must be fully sustainable. 

What are second life batteries used for?

Second life batteries are ones that have reached the end of their "automotive" life but still have a residual capacity of about 70-80%. This means they can be used in stationary systems, in combination with renewable energy generation, such as wind and solar, and/or to supply services to the electricity network. Extending the life of batteries means reducing their carbon footprint and increasing the amount of renewable energy on the grid. It also makes electric vehicles cheaper, because it converts waste disposal costs into residual value. The EV market is one of the options available, albeit not the only one. By 2030, in Italy alone, it is estimated that 60,000 tons of electric vehicle batteries will have to be disposed of per year.
Innovation and Sustainability

Innovation and Sustainability

Leading the way to climate-proof technological transformation

However, although they can no longer be used to power an electric vehicle, second life batteries can be used for other applications, such as stationary storage systems. One of Enel X’s flagship cases in this remit is the grant that the company won, together with Aeroporti di Roma (AdR), operator of Italy's largest airport Rome–Fiumicino International Airport "Leonardo da Vinci (FCO), for €3.15 million from the European Innovation Fund for its airport sustainability second life battery storage (PIONEER) project.

What is the process of recycling batteries?

The reuse of batteries and recycling of the materials they contain at the end of their life are all-around sustainability goals and an effective application of the Circular Economy. The efficient use, recycling, and reuse of storage and batteries is becoming increasingly key, to the point of shaping specific projects for technological development, catalyzing financing for their implementation, and creating specialized production chains for the segment.
The Circular Economy

The Circular Economy

A new model for creating value

Reuse is one of the cornerstones of the Circular Economy. When an EV battery reaches the end of its “first life”, there are several options, notwithstanding recycling, for stationary applications:

  • Repurposing, wherein several suitable packs are selected and combined based on residual state, capacity, et cetera, is one option.
  • Refurbishment of packs is a second viable option. Essentially packs are disassembled and then single cells are reconditioned and repacked in new modules.

Repurposed and refurbished packs can then be used in stationary applications which promote affordability, energy efficiency, environmental-friendliness, and sustainability.

What are the main benefits of battery recycling and reuse?

Electricity storage systems and batteries play a strategic role in the energy transition value chain, they are essential to realize more effective, efficient, and competitive electrification solutions in several areas. Recovering an increasing quantity of material from a lithium battery- which is currently the most common on the market, because of smartphones and electric cars- has environmental benefits. Giving a second life to batteries, by reusing them in different ways, also has economic benefits. The efficient use, recycling and reuse of storage and batteries is becoming increasingly important, shaping development projects and their funding and creating specialized production chains for the segment.


The process driving the energy transition for a sustainable world