Renault enters UK energy storage market with Powervault and M&S trials

Renault has become the latest carmaker to venture into the energy storage market, after partnering with energy equipment suppliers Powervault and Marks & Spencer (M&S) to trial used electric vehicle (EV) batteries in home energy storage units in the UK.

Powervault and Renault are placing 50 home storage units into UK households already fitted with solar arrays. The trials will incorporate second-life EV batteries provided by the carmaker to reduce the cost of the unit by 30%.

Renaults programme director for EV batteries and infrastructures Nicolas Schottey said: “Thanks to this home energy storage partnership with Powervault, Renault is adding a new element into its global strategy for second life batteries, which already covers a large number of usages from industrial to residential building and districts. 

“The second life use not only gives additional life to electric vehicle batteries before they are recycled, but also allow consumers to save money. It’s a win-win-win: for EV owners, home-owners and the planet.”

The units will be provided to homes of M&S Energy customers, a community-tariff arm of the retailer, Hyde residents, social housing tenants and in schools in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. M&S Energy, which has been supplying 100% green electricity since 2015, will reach out to consumers to discuss their interest in participating.

Aimed at creating the “tipping point” for a mass-market roll-out of energy storage in the UK, the partnership explores the technical performance of second-life batteries and customer reactions to the concept.

Renault EV batteries typically have a lifetime of eight to 10 years. Through the trials, these batteries are removed from vehicles, unpacked and then graded before being integrated into smaller battery packs. Through the Powervault system, the batteries are given an estimated 10 years of additional life use.

Storage scores

Powervault believes that the smart meter rollout will make all of the 26m UK homes eligible for the system, regardless of whether they have solar arrays equipped. The company has launched a crowd-funding page on CrowdCube to raise equity for the systems.

Renault is the latest established car manufacturer to venture into this field. In April 2017, Daimler attempted to replicate Tesla’s energy storage plans through the Mercedes-Benz brand, which wants to introduce a “private energy revolution” to UK.

Elsewhere, BMW is using energy storage as a crux for its new operating model, which focuses heavily on the circular economy.

At the forefront of the EV transition is Japanese carmaker Nissan, which is trialling vehicle-to-grid energy systems in the UK, through a partnership with the National Grid.

Matt Mace

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