Batteries on wheels: the role of battery electric cars in the EU power system and beyond

Are batteries the new gold? They might well be considering how key they are to the decarbonisation of large parts of the European economy, in particular the transport and energy sectors. Electrifying cars, vans, buses and trucks using rechargeable lithium-ion batteries offers an effective, scalable and, if combined with renewable power, zero emission solution for transport; Europe’s biggest climate problem. T&E has partnered with Enel, Iberdrola and Renault-Nissan to commission a report from Element Energy to understand the opportunities offered by electric vehicle integration, and how to turn these “batteries on wheels” into an asset, rather than a problem. 

European carmakers have jointly committed more than €130 billion to electrification in the coming years. This is a positive development, but if the rollout of electric vehicles is not properly managed – via uncontrolled grid connections or unsustainable use and sourcing of materials – challenges will arise, reducing the environmental benefits and creating new problems. 

The report, published alongside T&E's briefing:

• estimates the expected uptake of EVs and the volumes of batteries available for grid services during the vehicle life, as well as second-life applications and recycling at the end of vehicle life;

• studies the impact of EV integration on EU grids and renewables penetration, with case studies of France, Spain, Italy and the UK;

• analyses the economics around innovative second-life applications of batteries and presents a number of promising case studies; and

• assesses challenges and opportunities around battery recycling, as well as what is needed to spur circular economy markets in Europe.

T&E's short briefing accompanies the Element Energy report; it provides additional analysis and policy recommendations in view of the new European Commission and upcoming legislative opportunities.