Nissan converts Leaf batteries into commercial energy storage
Used Nissan Leaf batteries will form the basis of commercial energy storage systems, under a new deal between the Japanese carmaker and energy storage provider Green Charge Networks.
The two firms announced earlier this week that the first systems will be installed at an unspecified Nissan facility later this summer, with plans to make them generally available in the fourth quarter of 2015.
“A lithium-ion battery from a Nissan LEAF still holds a great deal of value as energy storage, even after it is removed from the vehicle, so Nissan expects to be able to reuse a majority of LEAF battery packs in non-automotive applications,” said Brad Smith, director of Nissan’s 4R Energy business in the U.S.
“Nissan looks forward to working with Green Charge Networks to get second-life vehicle batteries into the hands of customers who can realize benefits that include improved sustainability and lower energy costs.”
The 24kwh Nissan Leaf battery can reportedly retain up to 80% of its power for its commercial afterlife.
The batteries could theoretically save large commercial facilities thousands on energy bills, if they are charged up at night when energy is cheaper, and then used to deliver power at periods of peak demand.
The cost of the system has not been announced, but Green Charge has promised it will be “substantially less than new lithium-ion batteries”.
Green Charge CEO Vic Shao said: “This partnership is extremely important to the distributed energy storage industry. This partnership is ultimately about power efficiency – reducing our carbon footprint, stress on the grid and energy costs.”
Video: Second life batteries from Nissan and Green Charge Networks
On Tuesday this week, American auto-maker General Motors announced that it has been successfully piloting a similar scheme.
Five old Chevrolet Volt batteries are being used alongside a solar array and two wind turbines, to power one of the company’s Michigan data centres. The batteries can provide up to four hours of energy when the sun is not shining or the wind not blowing.
Pablo Valencia, a senior manager of GM’s Battery Life Cycle Management division explained: “This secondary use application extends its life, while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale.”
“This system is ideal for commercial use because a business can derive full functionality from an existing battery while reducing upfront costs through this reuse,” Valencia said.
GM said it is working with partners to test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.
These latest development mark ground-breaking progress in the repurposing of used car batteries – which are notoriously difficult to recycle – but GM and Nissan will face stiff competition in the energy storage market from other carmakers, notably Tesla and Daimler-Benz.
Tesla announced earlier in June that it was doubling the capacity of its Powerwall battery pack to 7 KW at peak, despite taking 35,000 orders in the first week after launch. The $4,000 system has been heralded as a breakthrough technology for its ability to facilitate the transmission of renewable energy into the grid.
Meanwhile, Daimler Benz is seeking to carve out its own share in the European market with its similarly-sized storage units.
Earlier this month, the International Renewable Energy Agency warned that the planet must triple its energy storage capcity by 2030, to smooth the trnasition to renewable energy.