Second life for Nissan Leaf batteries at solar power plant
The Nissan Leaf electric car was launched in 2010 and has been gaining popularity ever since. However, one implication of the success of the Leaf and other electric vehicles has been the throughput of valuable resources needed to make each battery. To compound the issue, the battery has a useful lifespan of about 100,000 km, at which stage it has lost about 30% of it’s capacity.
Nissan have now launched a collaboration to try and address this second issue. In conjunction with Sumitomo, the company has announced a highly innovative method of prolonging the useful lifespan of the battery, by re-using them (virtually as is) for the storage of electricity produced by mega-solar farm facilities.
On the island of Yumeshima in western Japan, batteries from used Nissan Leaf electric cars have been reused to store electricity created by the 36,000 solar panels, which have been built on a disused landfill site. The facility can produce up to 10 megawatts of electricity which is either fed into the power grid or now, in this global first pilot project, is stored in banks of 16 used EV batteries. In conjunction, the two companies have engineered a method of electricity management to ensure that maximum battery capacity is utilised. More information about this project can be seen in the video below:
This project is one of several created by the “4R Energy Corporation”, which is a joint venture between Nissan and Sumitomo. “4R”, which stands for “Re-use”, “Re-sell”, “Re-Fabricate” and “Recycle”, is aimed at developing effective uses for the used car batteries. Products currently offered by the company include
- home-use battery systems, for those houses equipped with panels or wind turbines, which can be used to power your home or electric car
- industrial use battery systems, for production facilities equipped with solar panels or wind turbines, which can be used as a backup power source or at times when the panels or turbines are not generating electricity
- batteries for refrigerated delivery vehicles which would normally use a standard fossil fuel engine to power the refrigeration unit
The company’s vision is to continue to develop solutions which leverage the approximately 70% remaining capacity of a used Nissan Leaf car battery after it has served its useful life as a car power source. Its target is that by 2020, it will be able to provide energy storage solutions for at least 50,000 EV batteries per year. More information about the 4R Energy Corporate (Japanese only) can be found here.
Renewable energy plus battery systems are growing in sophistication and popularity, most recently with Tesla’s announcement of a domestic solution, and Rocky Mountain Institute’s report that found such systems could help create more resilient energy networks.