Engie launches second-life EV battery grid services

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Multinational utility Engie has launched a new grid-connected storage project in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The first phase of the project will be 150kW/90kWh in size and the aim is to provide grid balancing services to distribution grid provider TenneT, through the use of second-life EV batteries.

Engie says that through a new system architecture, the engineers have arranged the second-life EV batteries in a series, which has served to increase both power and capacity, and reduce costs.

The E-Stor system, which was developed by energy storage technology company Connected Energy, is set to be adopted on a larger scale at various other sites in northern Europe, after the initial phase has been evalutaed.

Indeed, a Connected Energy spokesperson told pv magazine that the second and third stages of the project will be launched in early and late 2019, respectively. The second stage is expected to have a power rating of 1 MW, while the following stage will be larger, although the spokesperson declined to say by how much.

They did say, however, that all of the projects will be realized in partnership with Engie.

Individual control

Connected Energy’s system is characterized by the fact that it controls each battery pack individually, using the battery pack’s own management system. Through that, parameters like health status, charge and heat can be monitored and steered accordingly, to optimize the utilization of each battery.

While the project with Engie requires the battery to simply provide frequency control, the spokesperson pointed out that the E-stor batteries are able to provide other grid services, like operational reserve and primary control. In the United Kingdom, for example, the company operates a storage system for Statkraft, which is integrated into the company’s virtual power plant solution and sells energy on the spot market.

While there is a supply arrangement with EV manufacturer Renault for second-life batteries, the company will also partner with other car companies. In the past, it has worked with Jaguar and Land Rover.

In this vein, the spokesperson highlighted that the system is adaptable to various types of batteries, hinting at the fact that some are air cooled and some are liquid cooled.

Commenting on the project, Connected Energy’s CEO Matthew Lumsden said, “We are delighted with the positive results and feedback from the first stage of this exciting journey with Engie. Our second-life E-Stor battery containers have been proven to deliver on a technical and economic level: they should provide a guaranteed 10-year service in the frequency market with a substantial cost benefit versus new batteries. This is just the start of a sequence of much bigger system roll-outs – 2019 is looking extremely promising indeed.”

A growing market

Earlier this year, a report highlighted that the market for second-life EV batteries is snowballing, By 2025, second-life battery applications in energy storage systems could reach 42 GWh of capacity.

The report also highlights that improved manufacturing processes related to standardization make this type of second-life use achievable at better costs, which would increase revenue generation for stakeholders in the market even further.

The analysts went on to spell out the business case for deploying second-life EV batteries in the United Kingdom. The case study speculates that a supplier of reserve capacity through a multi-MW storage system would earn around £50,000 per MW, per year (US$65,000).

A 100 MW plant of 7,000 Nissan Leaf batteries, meanwhile, could generate annual revenue of $6.7 million, which translates to $965/battery/per year. For the expected rest life-cycle of five years, each battery would yield $4,825, wrote the authors.