What Do We Do With Old Electric Vehicle Batteries?

It's a growing problem

Batteries destined for Volkswagen ID.3 electric cars stand stacked at the "Gläserne Manufaktur" ("Glass Manufactory") production facility.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Is driving an electric vehicle better for the environment than driving a gasoline-powered one? Definitely. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some unexpected questions about the effect that electric vehicles can have on the environment, especially with sales of EVs growing around the world.

A new article at Jalopnik explores one substantial one: what, exactly, is the best way to deal with electric vehicle batteries that are no longer in use? This is an issue now facing the state of California, which is making a big push to increase EV usage throughout the Golden State. That’s fine news in and of itself, but given the advances in battery technology, it could result in an abundance of old, outdated batteries.

As Jalopnik’s article notes, California’s dilemma is notable in part because its government doesn’t yet have a plan in place to manage battery recycling or reuse; this is in contrast to efforts from governments and corporations elsewhere in the world.

One encouraging practice, however, involves using old EV batteries to store power generated from solar arrays and windmills. It’s something that could answer a lot of questions, and could echo the growth of EV adoption with the growth of green energy. But it’ll take some logistical work to make everything come together.

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