Cheap, Used, Refurbished, Recycled & Second-Life Battery for EVs and Solar Storage  

It’s clear that a robust market will sprout up aroundrepair/replacement/recycling for EV and solar batteries. The question is who will reap the rewards of this market? The future I envision (which also involves a lot of assumptions on my part) is one where a few different involved parties make up a closed loop battery recycling ecosystem.

This scenario is focused only only lithium-ion batteries but a different technology such as saltwater batteries, flow batteries, etc could create a divergence between EV and solar batteries and also create unforeseen repair/refurbishment/recycling situations that don’t apply to li-ion batteries.

Stakeholders in This Space

Vehicle/solar/battery manufacturer

Much like iPhones or cars, you can always have your batteries replaced or (possibly) repaired by the “dealer”. This would be the original manufacturer for EVs (Tesla) and either the solar installer or battery manufacturer for solar batteries (SunRun, Tesla, Panasonic). This option will always be the most expensive but also the most in-line with warranties and best practices.

As EVs proliferate to more cost-conscious drivers (ie not Tesla drivers), battery cost sensitivity will lead to a rapid increase in the market for refurbished batteries.

Battery Technician

This is the party that repairs batteries when something goes wrong. This mostly involves traditional repair but I also anticipate some future technologies that can “rejuvenate” batteries and increase their storage capacity through some chemical treatment on-site. Currently battery repair for EVs is handled like any car repair – by independent garages or the manufacturer. Repairs for solar batteries is also handled by the installer or the manufacturer – because of the newness of solar+storage solutions, almost all solar batteries are still under warranty.

I’m a little unclear on what battery repair even looks like beyond connections to the rest of the equipment. If there is a battery failure is it even repairable or does the chemistry break down?

Aftermarket/3rd party Battery Supplier

I imagine that these will be local battery shops or ecommerce entities that provide refurbished, recycled or aftermarket batteries that can be had at a lower cost but with lower quality and potential issues with EV warranties. I imagine that the aftermarket for solar batteries should be pretty robust once battery technology improves and second-life battery technology makes refurbished batteries a feasible alternative.

The recycled solar battery market should develop in two stages, both converging to spur on massive growth in 8-10 years (though we can definitely profit before then!)

  1. As EV batteries reach the limit of their usefulness, they can and will be recycled and converted into solar storage batteries. 3.24 million EVs were sold in 2020. Let’s say the average EV battery capacity is 30 kWh (this is pretty conservative as Tesla Model 3 has 50-82 kWh but obviously not every EV is a Tesla). That’s about 97 million kWh of storage capacity. Let’s say that their capacity will decline to ~80% within 8 years (this is when EV owners will want to swap them out for better performance), this means that there is now 78 million kWh being removed from EVs and entering the used battery market. This all means that in 2029, the equivalent of 5,571,428 Tesla powerwalls of potential storage capacity is going to enter the aftermarket.
  2. Solar+storage has only really come on in the last few years with the creation of the Powerwall, LG Chem, SunRun Brightbox, etc. These warranties are usually 8-10 years, so I imagine the demand for replacement batteries will begin to take off around 2025 and continue to escalate. This demand should mesh perfectly with the end of useful live of EV batteries and the money will be made by whoever can seamlessly transition EV batteries to utility storage batteries. This means compelling EV owners to sell their old EV batteries at a good price and then flipping them either in bulk to utility-scale energy providers or to homeowners who need to replace their solar+storage battery.
I would imagine that the aftermarket/3rd party battery market is going to rely largely on battery recycling, second-life batteries and battery repair to reduce costs in an increasingly cost-sensitive market.

Battery Recycler

This is the company that takes in old batteries and either recycles/refurbishes them to give them a second life OR breaks them down for their component parts. The biggest issue with lithium ion batteries is that they are very time-consuming to break down and the amount of effort/labor involved is worth more than the resulting value of the metals extracted. That means that it’s still a little unclear what will happen with stationary batteries like solar storage banks which no longer have useful life as a storage medium in any capacity. Will a new process be invented that can rejuvenate batteries through some chemical treatment? Will a new process be invented or a new manufacturing method be implemented that makes breaking down li-ion batteries more profitable? We don’t really know. This company just went public: but I don’t think their technology is proven profitable OR at scale so we will have to see.

Whether battery refurbishers will become the distributors or just the recyclers remains to be seen – I imagine that distributors who are more capable will take over and leave the technical aspects of recycling the batteries to the recycler.

So Who Will Need Leads?

I think the main businesses that will need leads in the coming years will be the companies that buy up EV batteries, repurpose them, and sell them as solar storage batteries. They will likely have agreements with vehicle manufacturers that makes buying the EV batteries easy (so won’t need leads there), but will need help reaching our existing market of homeowners. There are two customers that will have a need for these refurbished batteries:
-Already solar-enabled homeowners whose existing battery reached the end of its life and they now need a replacement for the remaining 10-12 years of the life of their PV installation or homeowners with solar panels who don’t yet have storage and just want an affordable battery.
-Homeowners who haven’t gone solar yet but are very cost-sensitive and waiting for battery prices to drop.

Luckily we are already able to reach these customers through our existing systems! Some existing companies already doing this: (powervault 3eco is their second life product)

We may also be able to help locally based 3rd party battery suppliers find customers. Much like 3rd party mobile phone repairs, these outfits would be an alternative to expensive dealer and manufacturer battery replacements for both EVs and solar storage. Maybe someone who owns the most basic EV model available in 2025 can make use of a battery that is no longer useful to a high-end Tesla. Or maybe the expansion of the used EV market (and the expiration of warranties) will lead to a more varied battery market where consumers will feel more comfortable buying a discount battery (either because it’s not name-brand or because it’s refurbished) without fear of violating their warranty.

Other Business Opportunities

We don’t have to necessarily stick only to marketing battery products to consumers either. Here are some other opportunities we can consider using our search presence:
-I’m not sure yet – still thinking!

Initial Basic Keyword Research

Seed list:
used ev battery
refurbished ev battery
refurbished solar battery
cheap solar battery
used solar battery
used backup battery
cheap ev battery
aftermarket ev battery
aftermarket solar battery
refurbished batteries
recycled batteries
recycled ev batteries
recycled solar batteries
refurbished leaf battery
refurbished nissan leaf battery
recycled leaf battery
cheap leaf battery
cheap nissan leaf battery
refurbished tesla battery
used tesla battery
used prius battery
cheap prius battery
recycled prius battery
refurbished prius battery
recycled tesla battery
used powerwall
refurbished powerwall
recycled powerwall
ev battery repair
solar battery repair
fix solar battery
cheap solar battery – 390
used ev battery – 140
used solar battery – 110
recycled ev batteries – 210
used tesla battery – 480
used prius battery – 170
refurbished prius battery – 140
used tesla battery for solar – 140
Not a ton of volume yet but I think a lot of these categories are going to continue growing.

Notes and Quotes

An interesting note is that solar batteries tend to have about 1/2 the lifespan of PV modules – this means that replacement is going to be necessary for ever solar+storage system.

Interesting Quote:
“Lithium-ion batteries are best suited for second-life usage for power storage over other types of batteries because when their useful life for electric vehicles is over they still retain 80 percent storage capacity for years.” – cool possiblities!
“Lithium-ion car and bus batteries can collect and discharge electricity for another seven to 10 years after being taken off the roads and stripped from chassis—a shelf life with significant ramifications for global carmakers, electricity providers and raw-materials suppliers.”

“The first is the large number of battery-pack designs on the market that vary in size, electrode chemistry, and format (cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch). Each battery is designed by the battery manufacturer and automotive OEM to be best suited to a given EV model, which increases refurbishing complexity due to lack of standardization and fragmentation of volume. Up to 250 new EV models will exist by 2025, featuring batteries from more than 15 manufacturers.

The second challenge involves falling costs for new batteries. As new batteries become cheaper, the cost differential between used and new diminishes, given that the rate of decline in remanufacturing cost is expected to lag the rate of decline in new manufacturing cost. We estimate that, at current learning rates, the 30 to 70 percent cost advantage that second-life batteries are likely to demonstrate in the mid-2020s could drop to around 25 percent by 2040. This cost gap needs to remain sufficiently large to warrant the performance limitations of second-life batteries relative to new alternatives.”

“Another key challenge for battery reuse is logistics. Used batteries, once removed from a vehicle, are considered hazardous waste and are therefore governed by restrictions on the transportation of hazardous wastes.  The costs and challenges in transporting and aggregating used batteries are also a barrier to widespread reuse.”

“For OEMs, key strategic issues to consider include whether to launch a direct-to-consumer business (Daimler tried this with its home storage offering, but soon exited the business); to supply used batteries to SES equipment providers who then repurpose, market, sell, and service a variety of second-life applications (as Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi currently does); or to participate at all. Tesla, for example, has indicated that it has no interest in participating in or partnering for second-life activities, currently preferring to recycle all its old batteries.”

“The production process for repurposing a battery is complex. The battery must be disassembled; the cells must be tested, graded, and matched; the casing must be rebuilt; the cells must be integrated with an inverter and software; and the repurposed battery must be reassembled before it can be resold. But manufacturing isn’t the only challenge.”


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