Cranfield University to install energy storage units using second-life EV batteries

Cranfield University will introduce three battery storage units at its Bedfordshire campus early next year, in a move that will enable the university to store and use renewable energy from a co-located solar farm.

The BESS installation has been supported by a £5m grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The BESS installation has been supported by a £5m grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Cranfield University will install three 300kW battery storage units, supplied by Connected Energy, at its Bedfordshire campus by March 2022.

The battery unit containers will consist of 24 second-life Renault Kangoo car batteries to operate across the Cranfield campus. The battery energy storage system (BESS) will be used to balance grid energy while also drawing renewables from Cranfield’s solar farm. The farm was installed in 2018 with the goal of generating 5% of the campus’s annual usage.

The BESS will run alongside an air source heat pump on the district heating to reduce reliance on the gas-combined heat and power system (CHP). One of the battery units will take excess solar generation at weekends to deliver back to the campus during student work hours on a Monday. The remaining units will connect directly into the site’s 40 transformers.

Cranfield University’s Energy and Environment Manager, Gareth Ellis, said: “This grant will be the start of completely reimagining how we balance our energy onsite. We will be using the batteries in a number of different ways to help us smooth out the energy interactions between the solar farm, the air source heat pump, the gas CHP, and the import of energy.”

The BESS installation has been supported by a £5m grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), managed through Salix.

The BESS system builds on Connected Energy’s existing portfolio of projects that range from 90kWh to 14.4MWh.

The company’s chief executive Matthew Lumsden said: “We have developed BESS technology that uses the EV batteries exactly as they are in the car but in a storage system, so that as far as the  batteries are concerned, they are in a car.

“This means all the safety and R&D invested in the batteries remains intact as the batteries start their second-life. It makes complete environmental, engineering, and emotional sense and we are delighted to see Cranfield lead the world in environmental best practice.”

Storage boon

Earlier this month, Bloomberg NEF (BNEF) released new battery energy storage forecasts, predicting a twenty-fold increase in grid-scale and domestic-scale battery capacity by the end of this decade that would push capacity beyond 1TWh.

The organisation’s 2021 edition of the Global Energy Storage Outlook forecasts that the global market for grid-scale and smaller batteries – excluding those in electric vehicles (EVs) – will attract at least $262bn of capital investment by the end of the decade.

This level of finance could support the addition of up to 999 GWh of capacity by the end of 2030. BNEF estimates that global capacity in 2020 stood at 29 GWh.

At COP26 in Glasgow this month, 25 organisations co-launched a new collaboration on long-duration energy storage technologies called the Long Duration Energy Storage Council. The Council is aiming to mobilise $3trn of investment within the sector by 2040, which could support 1.5TW to 2.5TW of installation within this timeframe. Council members include BP, Siemens Energy and Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Matt Mace



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