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Retired electric car batteries to be used in mobile charging stations

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retired electric car batteries to be used in mobile charging stations

One of the biggest criticisms of electric cars is what happens to their high-powered batteries once they degrade and have to be decommissioned from plug-in vehicles.

Not only are EV batteries expensive for owners to replace, high-skilled workforces are required to extract valuable metals inside them, and even then they are difficult to recycle – and this could lead to huge waste mountains, experts have warned.

German car maker BMW says it has found a resolution for its high-mileage electric vehicles, giving their batteries a second-life use as mobile power units to provide charging solutions for other plug-in cars.

After life: BMW UK has partnered with a British energy storage firm to supply decommissioned EV batteries that can be used as mobile charging devices for other plug-in cars

After life: BMW UK has partnered with a British energy storage firm to supply decommissioned EV batteries that can be used as mobile charging devices for other plug-in cars

After life: BMW UK has partnered with a British energy storage firm to supply decommissioned EV batteries that can be used as mobile charging devices for other plug-in cars

The auto brand will supply a British energy storage firm with decommissioned battery modules from electric BMW and Mini models that can be used in mobile power units.

The aim is to provide a sustainable second-use model for the batteries, which lose capacity over time and after years of use are deemed no longer efficient for electric cars. 

As part of a new partnership with the car giant, Off Grid Energy has produced its first prototype mobile charging device, which is powered by lithium-ion battery modules extracted from a Mini Electric development vehicle.

It has a 40kWh capacity delivering a 7.2kW fast charge and will be used at BMW and Mini UK events over the next year. 

As more battery modules become available over time, it says it can produce combined systems with a capacity of up to 180kWh from multiple electric vehicle batteries, which will be able to provide charges at rates of up to 50kW. 

‘When these units are used to displace conventional ways of generating temporary power, the battery modules will at least double the CO2 reduction achieved in their original use in the car, continuing their positive impact in reducing carbon emissions,’ says the energy storage company.

Off Grid Energy specialises in external storage vehicles that can be move from location to location for a number of services, including charging electric cars

Off Grid Energy specialises in external storage vehicles that can be move from location to location for a number of services, including charging electric cars

Off Grid Energy specialises in external storage vehicles that can be move from location to location for a number of services, including charging electric cars

Off Grid Energy has produced its first prototype mobile charging device, which is powered by lithium-ion battery modules extracted from a Mini Electric development vehicle (not device pictured)

Off Grid Energy has produced its first prototype mobile charging device, which is powered by lithium-ion battery modules extracted from a Mini Electric development vehicle (not device pictured)

Off Grid Energy has produced its first prototype mobile charging device, which is powered by lithium-ion battery modules extracted from a Mini Electric development vehicle (not device pictured)

Commenting on the partnership, Graeme Grieve, ceo at BMW Group UK, said: ‘BMW Group will have 25 electrified models on the roads by 2023 – half of them fully electric. 

‘We are delighted to work with Off Grid Energy to find a sustainable way of continuing to use these valuable batteries, even after they have put in many years of service in our electrified cars.’

Like many electric models on the market, batteries in BMW and Mini cars have a warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles. 

After this period the battery could still retain up to 80 per cent of its initial capacity, according to the vehicle maker.

However, it concedes that it is ‘inevitable’ that as EVs get older their batteries will no longer function at an optimum level for the car.

According to battery degradation calculations by Canadian firm Geotab, the average capacity loss for electric and plug-in hybrid cars is an estimated 12 per cent after six years – essentially dropping 2 per cent capacity annually.

BMW says despite its car batteries declining in performance – significant enough to retire the unit from a vehicle – it can continue to serve a secondary use purpose as a mobile power source as part of its sustainability and resource efficiency strategy.

BMW Group ceo, Oliver Zipse, said: ‘How we use resources will decide the future of our society – and of the BMW Group. As a premium car company, it is our ambition to lead the way in sustainability. That is why we are taking responsibility here and now.’ 

BMW says despite its car batteries declining in performance - significant enough to retire the unit from a vehicle - it can continue to serve a secondary use purpose as a mobile power source as part of its sustainability and resource efficiency strategy

BMW says despite its car batteries declining in performance - significant enough to retire the unit from a vehicle - it can continue to serve a secondary use purpose as a mobile power source as part of its sustainability and resource efficiency strategy

BMW says despite its car batteries declining in performance – significant enough to retire the unit from a vehicle – it can continue to serve a secondary use purpose as a mobile power source as part of its sustainability and resource efficiency strategy

Earlier this year, Warwick University announced it had created a ‘fast grading’ system for second-life car batteries to determine if they could be purposed after being decommissioned from vehicles, using Nissan Leaf EV power supplies for the study.

If the battery’s end of life capacity is less than 70 per cent, the report says they can be reused for less demanding second life applications such as domestic and industrial energy storage.

The university said: ‘Graded second-life battery packs can provide reliable and convenient energy storage options to a range of customers: from electric roaming products – providing electricity for customers on the move, to home storage products – enabling customers with solar panels to store their energy generated. 

‘More crucially, the packs can be used for storage allowing increased intermittent renewable energy sources on the grid, without putting security of supply at risk.’

Professor David Greenwood from WMG, University of Warwick, added: ‘Automotive batteries deliver some great environmental benefits, but they consume a lot of resources in doing so. 

‘Opening up a second life for batteries improves both the environmental and the economic value we draw from those resources before they need recycling.’ 

Battery challenges: Various studies have warned that Britain needs to act quickly to improve its recycling capacity for electric vehicle parts, else face waste mountains at landfill

Battery challenges: Various studies have warned that Britain needs to act quickly to improve its recycling capacity for electric vehicle parts, else face waste mountains at landfill

Battery challenges: Various studies have warned that Britain needs to act quickly to improve its recycling capacity for electric vehicle parts, else face waste mountains at landfill 

Threat of electric car battery waste mountains

Demand for new electrified cars is booming at the moment, with battery electric vehicle registrations up by 165 per cent year-on-year, and plug-in hybrids also increasing by 84 per cent. 

Latest industry figures show that 108,888 cars sold in Britain so far this year were battery-powered motors, accounting for 8.8 per cent of all new vehicles bought in the UK so far this year.

Experts have predicted their market share will increase to 12 per cent next year, as new UK regulations confirmed this week will force manufacturers to increase their sales of ultra-green models.

That compares to 719,908 cars with petrol engines and 209,093 with diesels.  

With both pure-electric and plug-in hybrid car sales surging, critics are growing increasingly concerned about the huge demand they will place on the National Grid, but also the impact on the environment given the difficulties of recycling batteries. 

Recent studies have warned that the huge uptake of electric vehicles in the lead up to the ban on sale of petrol and diesel cars – currently scheduled for 2040 but likely to be fast-tracked by a decade to 2030 – could result in ‘waste mountains’ of end-of-life lithium ion batteries.

Finding ways to recycle EV batteries will not only avoid a huge burden on landfill, it will also help us secure the supply of critical materials, such as cobalt and lithium, that surely hold the key to a sustainable automotive industry 
Professor Andrew Abbott, University of Leicester

A review of existing recycling measures in place suggests that while plug-in cars offer a solution to cut emissions, governments and industry need to act now to develop a robust infrastructure to dispose of decommissioned batteries or face a substantial waste management problem.

The research, led by the University of Birmingham, calculated that the 1million electric vehicles sold globally in 2017 will alone lead to 250,000 tonnes – or half a million cubic metres – of unprocessed pack waste when the cars reach the end of their lives.

Dr Gavin Harper, Faraday Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, who is lead author on the research paper, said: ‘The recycling challenge is not straightforward: there is enormous variety in the chemistries, shapes and designs of lithium ion batteries used in EVs.

‘Individual cells are formed into modules, which are then assembled into battery packs.

‘To recycle these efficiently, they must be disassembled and the resulting waste streams separated.

‘As well as lithium, these batteries contain a number of other valuable metals, such as cobalt, nickel and manganese, and there is the potential to improve the processes which are currently used to recover these for reuse.’

Professor Andrew Abbott of the University of Leicester and co-author of the 2019 research, added: ‘Electrification of just 2 per cent of the current global car fleet would represent a line of cars that could stretch around the circumference of the Earth – some 140 million vehicles.

‘Landfill is clearly not an option for this amount of waste. Finding ways to recycle EV batteries will not only avoid a huge burden on landfill, it will also help us secure the supply of critical materials, such as cobalt and lithium, that surely hold the key to a sustainable automotive industry.’

While the research offered a stark warning to both ministers and the automotive sector, it also offers an enormous opportunity for the UK to create dedicated facilities specifically to recycle end-of-life batteries, which could boost the economy and create jobs.

It concluded there was a need for eight gigafactories in the UK by 2040 to service the demand for lithium-ion batteries. 

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No deal Brexit would hike prices of electric cars by £2,800 on average

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no deal brexit would hike prices of electric cars by 2800 on average

Electric vehicles, which are already priced at a premium compared to petrol and diesel cars, would become £2,800 more expensive on average next year if a deal can’t be found with the European Union, a trade body has warned.

A rise would be unavoidable as a result of 10 per cent tariffs being placed on all vehicles imported to the UK from the EU if the Government doesn’t hash-out a deal with Brussels before the end of the transition period.

Increased vehicle costs would ultimately price many potential buyers out of switching to low-emissions cars and burst the recent boom in demand for plug-in models, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders claims.

However, a separate report has suggested any increase in prices as a result of a Brexit no-deal would be in-line with those felt on petrol and diesel models in less than half a decade after calculating that there will be price parity as early as 2024.

Is an EV price hike coming in 2021? The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said failure to secure a trade-free deal with the EU will see the price of imported battery cars rise

Is an EV price hike coming in 2021? The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said failure to secure a trade-free deal with the EU will see the price of imported battery cars rise

Is an EV price hike coming in 2021? The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said failure to secure a trade-free deal with the EU will see the price of imported battery cars rise

The SMMT has previously said the average cost of new cars shipped from EU nations to the UK would become £1,900 pricier from 1 January if trade-free tariffs are not agreed. 

However, it has now said the impact would be far greater for buyers of electric cars, which are currently more expensive than an equivalent motor with an internal combustion engine if the UK and EU can’t find a common ground as talks recommence this week.

The trade body has urged both sides to ‘re-engage with vigour’ in the Brexit negotiation process, not only for the automotive sector but for ‘hopes of a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis’.

Government officials said on Monday that time was very short to ‘bridge the significant remaining gaps on key issues’ in talks with the European Union, as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier heads to London to continue negotiations. 

The organisation said a no deal would be the worst possible outcome for the sector, car buyers and the UK’s ambitions to become a world leader in transport decarbonisation. 

‘The immediate imposition of blanket tariffs under World Trade Organisation rules would add billions to the cost of trade and, crucially, to the cost of building and buying electric vehicles,’ it warned.

The 10 per cent WTO tariff would add at least £4.5billion to the annual cost of fully assembled cars traded between the UK and the EU, with an average hike of £1,900 per EU-built vehicle sold in the UK.

However, new analysis shows that for fully electric cars fitted with expensive battery technology, the cost increase is even higher, at £2,800, effectively increasing the price gap between them and conventionally-powered vehicles. 

Currently, a new Volkswagen Golf with a petrol engine costs from £20,280.

The cheapest ID.3 – VW’s new comparatively-sized electric family hatchback – costs from £29,990.

The entry level VW Golf currently costs from £20,280

The entry level VW Golf currently costs from £20,280

The similarly-sized VW ID.3 electric hatchback is £29,990 - almost £10k more expensive

The similarly-sized VW ID.3 electric hatchback is £29,990 - almost £10k more expensive

The entry level VW Golf (left) currently costs from £20,280 while the cheapest ID.3 electric hatchback is almost £10,000 pricier, even when buyers use the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant

Similarly, Jaguar Land Rover – the UK’s biggest car maker – charges £64,495 for its battery-powered I-Pace SUV, while a comparable F-Pace with a petrol powerplant starts at just under £45,000.

A £2,800 price increase would also make the £3,000 plug-in car grant available to buyers of pure electric vehicles almost null and void.

Car manufacturers have widely said they have no intention to absorb the increased cost of tariffs to bring EU-built vehicles to the UK, instead passing the higher charges directly to customers in their showrooms.

But by making electric vehicles even more expensive, it could create a roadblock for the recent boom in demand for EVs seen in 2020, the SMMT warned.

By the end of September, demand for pure electric cars has risen 165 per cent year-on-year with some 66,611 registered in the first nine months of 2020 – which is almost double that of full-year EV sales in 2019.

Battery electric vehicle demand is up 165% so far in 2020. However, the SMMT said increased vehicle prices could kill the surge in demand

Battery electric vehicle demand is up 165% so far in 2020. However, the SMMT said increased vehicle prices could kill the surge in demand

Battery electric vehicle demand is up 165% so far in 2020. However, the SMMT said increased vehicle prices could kill the surge in demand

Moreover, a tariff would also add some £2,000 on to the average cost of UK-built battery electric cars exported to the EU, making our own products less competitive and the UK far less attractive as a manufacturing investment destination. 

Second-hand EV values are already on the rise

Britons are embracing electric cars more than ever before, with the 165 per cent urge in registrations also increasing demand on the second-hand market.

As a result, the average price of a used electric cars rose by over a third (34 per cent) in September 2020 compared to the same month last year, according to Motorway.co.uk. 

Tesla has had the biggest price increase compared to September 2019, up 11 per cent, equating to an average of £4,746 more per vehicle. 

In fact, the average price of a used Tesla increased by 3 per cent in September from the previous month.

Other manufacturers have also posted increases, says the car selling  website. 

Plug-in BMW’s have risen by 3 per cent, Hyundai’s up 10 per cent Nissan Leafs rising by 4 per cent and Renault’s Zoe up 6 per cent. 

This would hit Nissan hardest, which produces the electric Leaf at its UK base in Sunderland. 

The overall impact of tariffs would ‘further hamper the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in zero emission vehicle development, production and deployment, severely damaging industrial competitiveness’, the body said.

And with ministers setting a deadline of 2035 for new petrol and diesel cars to be banned from sale and the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050, restricted the appetite for electric vehicles today could have serious implications for these targets. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Just as the automotive industry is accelerating the introduction of the latest electrified vehicles, it faces the double whammy of a coronavirus second wave and the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal. 

‘As these figures show, ‘no deal’ tariffs will put the brakes on the UK’s green recovery, hampering progress towards net zero and threatening the future of the UK industry.

‘To secure a truly sustainable future, we need our government to underpin industry’s investment in electric vehicle technology by pursuing an ambitious trade deal that is free from tariffs, recognises the importance of batteries in future vehicle production and ensures consumers have choice in accessing the latest zero emission models. 

‘We urge all parties to re-engage in talks and reach agreement without delay.’ 

Investment bank UBS says electric and internal combustion engines cars will cost the same in 2024 as batteries become cheaper

Investment bank UBS says electric and internal combustion engines cars will cost the same in 2024 as batteries become cheaper

Investment bank UBS says electric and internal combustion engines cars will cost the same in 2024 as batteries become cheaper

‘EVs will cost the same to produce as petrol and diesel cars by 2024’, says new report

While the SMMT says the addition of WTO tariffs will see electric car prices accelerate more significantly than petrol and diesel vehicles on average, a new report claims this might only be the case for another three years.

Investment bank UBS says electric cars will cost the same to make as conventional motors as early as 2024 due to falling battery costs.

Based on analysis of batteries from the seven largest manufacturers, it says the extra cost to manufacture powerful lithium ion batteries versus their fossil fuel equivalents will shrink to just $1,900 (£1,470) per car by 2022.

Two years after that date, it calculates there will be complete parity with internal combustion vehicles – bringing to an end the last decade of EVs being at a significant premium. 

Tim Bush, an analyst at the bank, told The Guardian that there will not be ‘many reasons left to buy an internal combustion engine car after 2025’ and car makers that try to hang on to sales of petrol and diesel powered cars ‘risk being left behind by rivals such as Tesla and Volkswagen’. 

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Metals Exploration climbs 168% on the stock market after relisting

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metals exploration climbs 168 on the stock market after relisting

Shares in mineral resources firm Metals Exploration shot up today following its relisting on the AIM exchange.

They rose 168.3 per cent by the mid-afternoon on its first day back on the London Stock Exchange in seven months after negotiations over its debt obligations were settled.

The company, which owns the Runruno Gold Project in the Philippines and has property tycoon Nick Candy as its largest shareholder, hopes the new debt terms will secure its long-term viability.

Property tycoon Nick Candy is the largest shareholder in London-listed Minerals Exploration

Property tycoon Nick Candy is the largest shareholder in London-listed Minerals Exploration

Property tycoon Nick Candy is the largest shareholder in London-listed Minerals Exploration

It also believes the rising price of gold as a result of the coronavirus could create significant equity for the business. 

A spokesperson for Mr Candy said the restructuring had ‘created stability’ for Metals Exploration in a way that gives it ‘flexibility’ while ‘significantly reducing the possibility of a default.’

They added: ‘Gold is widely perceived as recession-proof which can be evidenced in the current record pricing…which coupled with the global pandemic and the upcoming US election, makes gold one of the desired assets in times of economic uncertainty.’

The element’s value has risen by a quarter in the last year, and the Runruno site can produce over 65,000 tonnes of gold per year, giving the firm great potential to financially benefit.

The business has struggled with its finances in recent years though as the Philippine government under Rodrigo Duterte has cracked down on mining in the country to help rehabilitate the environment.  

He appointed Gina Lopez as his environment secretary, and prior to her death in 2019, she ordered the closure of 23 mines and the cancellation of 75 mining contracts that she claimed threatened watersheds.  

Candy’s brother Christian bought a large stake in the London-listed miner in 2010 as the pair sought to diversify their business away from luxury property. 

The pair helped design One Hyde Park, a modernist residential and retail development in Knightsbridge where flats can sell for tens of millions of pounds.  

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Metals Exploration climbs over 160% on the stock market after relisting

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metals exploration climbs over 160 on the stock market after relisting

Shares in mineral resources firm Metals Exploration shot up today following its relisting on the AIM exchange.

They rose 168.8 per cent by the mid-afternoon on its first day back on the London Stock Exchange in seven months after negotiations over its debt obligations were settled.

The company, which owns the Runruno Gold Project in the Philippines and has property tycoon Nick Candy as its largest shareholder, hopes the new debt terms will secure its long-term viability.

Property tycoon Nick Candy is the largest shareholder in London-listed Minerals Exploration

Property tycoon Nick Candy is the largest shareholder in London-listed Minerals Exploration

Property tycoon Nick Candy is the largest shareholder in London-listed Minerals Exploration

It also believes the rising price of gold as a result of the coronavirus could create significant equity for the business. 

A spokesperson for Mr Candy said the restructuring had ‘created stability’ for Metals Exploration in a way that gives it ‘flexibility and significantly reducing the possibility of a default.’

They added: ‘Gold is widely perceived as recession-proof which can be evidenced in the current record pricing…which coupled with the global pandemic and the upcoming US election, makes gold one of the desired assets in times of economic uncertainty.’

The element’s value has risen by a quarter in the last year, and the Runruno site can produce over 65,000 tonnes of gold per year, giving the firm great potential to financially benefit.

The business has struggled with its finances in recent years though as the Filipino government under Rodrigo Duterte has cracked down on mining in the country to help rehabilitate the environment.  

He appointed Gina Lopez as his environment secretary, and prior to her death in 2019, she ordered the closure of 23 mines and the cancellation of 75 mining contracts that she claimed threatened watersheds.  

Candy’s brother Christian bought a large stake in the London-listed miner in 2010 as the pair sought to diversify their business away from luxury property. 

The pair helped design One Hyde Park, a modernist residential and retail development in Knightsbridge where flats can sell for tens of millions of pounds.  

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