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What Does Tesla's Million-Mile Battery Mean For Green Energy?

Green Energy

The million-mile battery for electric vehicles (EVs) could hit the market very soon, giving a boost not only to zero-emission vehicle ownership but also to renewable energy generation.   

While the million-mile battery will outlast whatever car it is placed in, it could still be put to good use after its initial purpose, providing a boon to the used EVs market or to energy storage, Maddie Stone writes in Grist.

The long-life battery could also assuage consumers' fears of degrading batteries in their vehicles and boost confidence in the technology, thus increasing global EV sales and market share.

Just a few years ago, a million-mile battery sounded like science fiction. Now, this fiction is set to become a reality as soon as this year, according to recent reports.

Tesla is reportedly set to launch a million-mile battery as soon as this year or early in 2021 for its Model 3 in China, as part of a wider plan to introduce longer-lasting, low-cost batteries that would bring EV prices to parity with conventional gas-powered cars.

Last year, a team from the Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who does research for Tesla, said in a paper that they had tested lithium-ion battery cell chemistry expected to be able to power electric vehicles (EVs) for more than 1 million miles and last at least two decades in grid energy storage. 

GM is "almost there" in its efforts to make a million-mile battery, GM's Executive Vice President Doug Parks said at an online conference in May. 

China's battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL) is ready to produce a battery that could last more than 1 million miles – 1.24 million miles, to be precise – and 16 years, the company's chairman Zeng Yuqun told Bloomberg in an interview last month.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most manufacturers of electric vehicles are currently offering eight-year or 100,000-mile warranties for their batteries, while Nissan is providing additional battery capacity loss coverage for five years or 60,000 miles.

Tesla's battery packs, for example, are designed to outlast the car, the EV manufacturer said in its 2019 impact report last month. Tesla's estimates show that a vehicle gets scrapped after around 200,000 miles of usage in the U.S. and 130,000 miles in Europe.

A million-mile battery could increase vehicle ownership and the resale value of EVs, giving impetus to the secondhand EV market and making EVs more popular.

Moreover, a 1,000,000-mile battery with longer life and usage would reduce the greenhouse emissions involved in the production of a vehicle, Tesla says.

"As a portion of the carbon footprint is emitted during the production phase of each vehicle, utilization of such vehicle over 1,000,000 miles dramatically reduces the lifetime carbon footprint per each mile travelled. Furthermore, battery recycling has the potential to further reduce emissions as components of a battery pack can be captured and reused, displacing much of the need for raw material mining and the associated emissions," Tesla noted.

In addition, million-mile battery packs could be used in ride-sharing services where the mileage is much higher than the miles traveled by an individual consumer. This could further boost EV market share as ridesharing service providers could drastically increase the number of electric cars in their fleets.

Battery packs can also serve as energy storage for renewable energy generation once they have outlasted the original vehicle they were intended to serve.

EV batteries are considered to be at the end of their productive life for a car when they fall to 80 percent of their original capacity, which is still plenty of capacity that could be repurposed. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have recently published a study of the feasibility of a utility-scale solar farm combined with a storage system made from used EV batteries. What they found was that this could be a better choice than building a new energy storage system.

The million-mile EV battery could be a boon to clean energy solutions in both the transportation and energy storage sectors and help reduce emissions thanks to its multi-purpose and extended use.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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