Automaker Renault is partnering with UK-based smart home energy storage specialist Powervault in a deal that will see batteries previously used to power electric vehicles (EVs) redeployed to store solar power in homes.
Renault is Europe’s number one EV manufacturer: sales of the Renault Zoe in Europe grew 15 percent in 2016 to 21,240 units, ahead of the Nissan Leaf (18,310 units sold) and the Tesla S Model (11,564 units).
Powervault, meanwhile, has developed a smart home battery system that enables homeowners to store energy from their own solar panels but can also automatically store using low-cost, off-peak energy from the grid. This combination, the company claims, can save homeowners up to 35 percent on their electricity bills.
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The batteries used in EVs typically have a lifetime of around eight to 10 years, but once retired from vehicular use, can still be used in stationary applications – such as home energy storage, for example. In this way, they become what is known as ‘second life’ batteries.
According to Nicolas Schottey, program director of EV batteries and infrastructures at Renault, they could have as much as another 10 years of additional useful life in a Powervault system. These second life battery packs, he explained, are removed from vehicles, unpacked and graded before Powervault make them into smaller battery packs for their own devices.
The partnership with Renault, according to Powervault, will reduce the cost of one of its smart battery units significantly. For example, a brand-new 2kWh (kilowatt-hour) Lithium-ion Powervault typically costs customers around £4,000 – but if second-life batteries are used, the price drops to £3,000.
Powervault is placing 50 trial units, powered by second-life batteries provided by Renault, in the homes selected customers of M&S Energy (part of high-street retailer Marks & Spencer), as well as social housing tenants and schools.
The company says the trial will explore the technical performance of second life batteries, as well as customer reaction to home energy storage to help develop a roll-out strategy for the mass market.
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Powervault welcomes household names
“The collaboration we are announcing today with these two household name brands – Renault and M&S – is an important milestone on our journey towards achieving mainstream adoption of home energy storage. Homeowners and brands are now looking to benefit from the smart power revolution,” said Joe Warren, managing director of Powervault.
He added that “it’s only a matter of time” before a Powervault becomes as common in UK households “as a dishwasher” – although this seems rather more unlikely. The return on investment figures look good, certainly, especially as utility bills continue to rise, but plenty of UK households would need significant assistance to shoulder the initial outlay for photovoltaic (PV) panels and Powervaults.
That said, there’s already a significant installed base of PV panels for Powervault to tap: some 850,000 units were installed by households in the UK between 2010 and 2015, according to figures from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The Powervault second life trial will start in July 2017 and last 12 months.
In the meantime, Internet of Business will be holding its Battery and Energy Storage Show in Birmingham on 28 & 29 November 2017.