Tesla may have made it trendy, but the California company is far from the only automaker exploring the commercial energy storage market, which is expected to grow from $200 million in 2012 to $19 billion in 2017, according to research firm IHS CERA.
Nissan has joined forces with Green Charge Networks to deploy second-life EV batteries for commercial energy storage. Powered by Green Charge’s intelligent software, the second-life energy storage unit has a cost advantage over traditional units, according to the companies. The system will be tested at a Nissan facility this summer, where multiple LEAF batteries will be configured to offset peak electricity demand.
“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 4R Energy, a joint venture that Nissan formed with Sumitomo in 2010. “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.”
Meanwhile, GM, which has been working with ABB for several years on second-life battery applications, announced that it has an installation up and running at an office building at the company’s Milford Proving Ground.
“Because the Volt typically draws its power from a band of energy in the battery pack, there is a lot of leftover juice for stationary use,” explained GM in a press release. “A new solar array and two wind turbines feed the administration building’s circuit breaker panel, where the five Volt batteries work in parallel to supply power to the building, delivering net-zero energy use on an annual basis.”
The 74 kW ground-mounted solar array and two 2 kW wind turbines generate approximately 100 Mwh of energy annually, enough power to provide all of the energy needs for the office building and lighting for the adjacent parking lot.
“Even after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in a Chevrolet Volt, up to 80 percent of its storage capacity remains,” said Pablo Valencia, Senior Manager, Battery Life Cycle Management. “This secondary use application extends its life, while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale.”
Toyota is a player in this game as well. It recently installed 208 used batteries from Camry Hybrids at Yellowstone National Park, and it sells a similar product to dealers in Japan.