ABB, Nissan North America, 4R Energy and Sumitomo Corporation of America plan to develop a Nissan LEAF battery storage prototype with a capacity of at least 50 kWh, or enough to supply 15 average homes with electricity for two hours.
The companies said Jan. 18 they aim to evaluate and test the residential and commercial applications of energy storage systems or back-up power sources using lithium-ion battery packs reclaimed from electric vehicles after use.
Electric vehicle batteries have longer lives than those of personal computers or cell phones, with up to 70% capacity remaining after 10 years of use in an automotive application, the companies said.
Energy storage systems can store power from the grid during times of low usage and feed that electricity back into the grid during periods of peak demand, increasing grid performance and providing back-up power during outages, they said.
The evaluation of Nissan batteries will help determine their suitability for the power industry as a cost-effective energy storage solution, they said.
During a media conference call Jan. 18, Ken Srebnik, senior manager with Nissan North America Corporate Planning, said Nissan has been working on this project since before the release of the first LEAF over a year ago, noting that from a financial and environmental perspective, it is important to the company.
He noted that even after 10 years of use in a LEAF, in an automotive application, the batteries will still have up to 70% of their power capacity.
“Obviously, we’re not going to have a supply of used batteries in the short-term,” he said. “The first several thousand LEAFs that are on the road in the first year are still satisfying our drivers and will for many years to come. We’re looking at different options which could affect the…timing on a commercial product, but right now we’re just focused on this update and moving into the next steps of design and development.”
Srebnik also said, “We do definitely see pilot projects with utilities in the next few years,” noting that there are community energy storage pilot projects that are underway with utilities like American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) and others.
Jochen Kreusel, ABB’s head of smart grids, said during the call that there is an increasing need for storage in the distribution grid for various reasons, including “to reduce peaks” and to integrate more renewable energy sources. Storage will also be an important element for stabilizing the grid as well as increasing – or maintaining – reliability, he said.