BMW opens energy storage facility built from used EV batteries

German car manufacturer BMW has announced the completion of a new utility-scale energy storage facility, which uses 2,600 worn electric vehicle (EV) battery modules to stabilise the grid and reduce the impact of peak demand.

The new 2MW power station which opened on Thursday (26 September) in Hamburg, Germany connects battery packs from more than 100 EVs to store energy which is available within seconds. The joint project with Bosch and Vattenfall will see the latter sell the stored energy on to primary control reserve markets, along with power from other flexibly controlled facility.

BMW Group’s vice president mobility services and energy services Dr Bernhard Blättel said: “The BMW Group is fully committed to electromobility with our BMW i model. Initiator projects for the charging infrastructure and energy management play a key role in this. The battery storage facility officially opened today represents an important milestone in the further optimisation of battery management.

“In future, with BMW Storage we will be able to offer efficient battery storage solutions tailored to customer needs. In the context of the new energy landscape, the BMW Group regards energy storage as the core component of energy management.”

New energy landscape

The storage facility will deliver primary control reserve power necessary to keep the 50 Hz grid frequency stable.

The Battery 2nd Life partnership aims to provide a useful second life for batteries previously fitted in BMW EVs, which have reached the end of their life cycle in the vehicle. After the used batteries have been tested and wired up, they are merged into the electricity storage facility where they constitute an important resource of the new energy landscape in stationary deployment.

Bosch Energy Storage Solutions’ general manager Cordelia Thielitz said: “Electricity storage systems are a key success factor for the new energy landscape. Thanks to smart electronic controllers, these storage systems can absorb excess electricity and release it again very quickly when needed.

“That way they help to stabilise the electricity grid. We expect to gain valuable knowledge from the Battery 2nd Life development project, and we regard it is as an important step on the way to a more efficient and more decentralised energy system.”

Vehicle-to-grid concept

The use of car batteries as commercial or domestic energy storage has already been deployed by BMW on previous occasions. In a recent green innovation round-up, edie revealed that the car manufacturer is taking old and used i3 batteries from cars and essentially hanging them on walls as repurposed energy storage systems to provide batteries that would usually be sent to the scrap heap with a new lease of life.

BMW has become the latest automotive giant to venture into the energy storage market. Last week, Tesla won the contract to design and build the largest lithium-ion battery in the world, as part of an energy storage upgrade for the US city of Los Angeles.

While Elon Musk’s company set the benchmark with the Powerwall, Nissan recently took the concept a step further with an innovative vehicle-to-grid concept. Moreover, old Renault EV batteries will be converted into energy storage units under a new partnership between the French carmaker and UK firm Connected Energy.

George Ogleby

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