How Moment Energy is breathing new life into spent EV batteries

The Coquitlam-based startup predicts that six million EV batteries will retire worldwide by 2030

When Claus Eckbo first heard of Moment Energy, he was intrigued. For decades, God’s Pocket Resort—a remote off-grid lodge near Port Hardy that he purchased in 2019—had relied almost entirely on diesel generators to power the cold-water scuba diving and kayaking destination. The generators were noisy and inefficient, and plumes of grey diesel exhaust would mingle with the fresh forest air—less than ideal for an eco-minded getaway.

But in the spring of 2023, God’s Pocket managed to reduce its generator runtime by 75 percent—and it was thanks to something urban dwellers had been discarding: used electric car batteries.

“We used to run our generators eight to 10 hours a day,” says Eckbo, who worked in private equity and social impact investing prior to taking on the resort. “Now we can strategically charge the batteries while guests are away on a boat. So they never hear a generator during their entire stay, which is mind-blowing.”

The resort’s battery energy storage system was the first commercial project for Moment Energy, a fast-growing B.C. startup that’s giving spent EV batteries a second life as usable power systems, primarily in commercial and industrial settings.

The company was started by four Simon Fraser University grads who met while studying mechatronics engineering—the combination of mechanical and electronic systems—and formed a team that designed and built a small electric race car for international competition.

Surprisingly, most retired EV batteries still have roughly 80 percent of their storage capacity—not enough for EV drivers looking to maximize their range, but still useful in other arenas.

“Most people don’t realize there’s so much potential left in these batteries,” says Sumreen Rattan, co-founder and COO of Coquitlam-based Moment. The key, she explains, is space. Cars only have so much room to accommodate the large, weighty EV batteries, so once their performance dips, you can’t simply add more—but properties don’t have the same constraints. “So as we got more and more into it, we realized how huge this opportunity is going to be.”

“Huge” is no overstatement. In December, the federal government unveiled the Electric Vehicle Availability Standard, which requires that, for the 2026 model year, at least 20 percent of new light-duty vehicles in Canada must be zero-emission. That percentage will rise annually to the point that, by 2030, 60 percent must be ZEVs, and by 2035, all new auto sales must be zero-emission.

Moment Energy is projecting that, by 2030, there will be six million EV batteries retiring worldwide, and the company is betting those batteries will be a boon for people looking to power anything from off-grid properties to car-charging stations, or to feed extra electricity into overtaxed grids.

Moment Energy employee charging a car
Moment Energy is working with manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and organizations like BC Hydro

“Utilities are facing so much power demand, especially with more and more electric vehicles hitting the road—and these grids weren’t designed to be able to charge thousands of EVs. So they’re looking for ways to meet those excess power needs,” explains Rattan. “They can either upgrade all their transmission lines and transformers, which is very costly and takes a lot of time, or they can install energy storage in different neighbourhoods to help support those energy needs without putting in expensive infrastructure.”

The systems can also be deployed in jurisdictions like Ontario, where manufacturers pay a premium during peak demand periods. That could potentially save businesses hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

For now, the incoming EV battery tsunami is still a trickle, but Moment is working closely with auto manufacturers including Mercedes Benz and Nissan, and installing off-grid systems for clients ranging from the Department of National Defence to BC Hydro to YVR. In October of 2023, Moment also became the first North American company to secure UL 1974 certification, which sets rigorous safety standards for repurposed battery systems.

“Once we prove out those projects, we’re essentially going to be opening the doors to thousands of other projects in the same space. And that’s just in the North American market,” says Rattan, who also hopes North American regulators will pass legislation requiring automakers to repurpose and recycle EV batteries, thereby solidifying the circular economy. “You can imagine how far we can go when we take this on a global scale.”

Meanwhile, on a very small scale, God’s Pocket Resort’s battery storage system—made from several retired Mercedes batteries—is expected to power the vacation destination for roughly seven to 10 years. Once the batteries are fully spent, they’ll go to a recycler and can be replaced with other used EV battery packs.

“The fact that they’re being upcycled isn’t just icing on top—it’s part of the whole motivation,” says Eckbo, who uses the battery system to power compressors, desalinators, kitchen appliances and more. “I want this place to have as small a footprint as possible—and this is a pretty good way to do that.”

On the Radar

Illustration of a man about to charge an electric car
Photo by iStock
  • In the third quarter of 2023, 21.8% of all new light-duty vehicle registrations in B.C. were for battery electric vehicles. Globally, 2024 EV sales are expected to top 16 million
  • There were more than 3,800  EV charging  stations in B.C. at  the end of 2022. As of March 2023, there were 8,732  charging locations in Canada
  • There were 41,876 Teslas registered with ICBC in 2022. The next highest EV seller was Nissan at 8,426
  • Vancouver’s V6J postal code, which covers Kitsilano and Shaughnessy, saw 2,287 Teslas registered with ICBC in 2022, the highest in the province

Sources: S&P Global, ICBC, Vancouver Sun, Yale E360, Government of B.C., Transport Canada