Perhaps you'd be more willing to buy an electric car if you knew that you could sell those pricey batteries down the road.
Nissan and electric power company ABB yesterday announced a partnership to test the technical and commercial feasibility of repurposing used EV batteries for energy storage on the grid and in homes. ABB will work with a joint venture called 4R Energy (for reuse, refabricate, resell, recycle) created by Nissan North America and industrial conglomerate Suminoto to research secondary uses of EV batteries.
The partnership intends to make a prototype stationary lithium ion battery system with at least 50 kilowatt hours of stored energy, which is enough to supply 15 average homes for two hours.
Batteries are the most expensive component of an electric vehicle, costing several thousand dollars depending on the size. After 10 years of driving, automakers expect they will have about 70 percent of their original capacity, which will lower a car's range.
But the batteries are still workable for many energy storage applications, such as home batteries or buffering the distribution grid. Lithium ion batteries are well suited for delivering bursts of power on the grid for minutes or hours. That means they could be used to create a steady flow of power to consumers as more variable wind and solar power comes onto the grid, said Jochen Kreusel, global head of ABB's smart grid program.
ABB is already working with GM on a similar project to repurpose Chevy Volt batteries for energy storage.
In addition to the technical challenge of repackaging used batteries, the partnership will seek to answer whether the end stationary storage product is commercially viable. In the past few years, utilities in the U.S. have started to experiment with neighborhood energy storage systems to provide backup for a group of homes and relieve pressure on the grid during peak times.