In the UK, Renault is supplying the £31m SmartHubs Project in West Sussex with over 1000 batteries that have finished their useful lives in EVs and will now be used in energy storage. Connected Energy, which is heading up the scheme, is using what is effectively a massive power bank to balance the supply and demand of the grid in the county.
It is being implemented by a six organisations, from universities to local government and energy companies, to demonstrate new ways of generating and storing low carbon energy. For example, energy from solar generation will be stored in the second-life batteries so it can be used when required to reduce the demand for energy from more carbon-intensive sources.
When distributed into the local grid, this clean energy will provide lower-cost electricity to social housing, transport, infrastructure, regular private homes and local businesses.
Batteries will be installed into Connected Energy's 'E-STOR' storage system. Several of these, each totalling 360kWh of storage, will be placed on industrial and commercial sites and linked to both solar generation, and EV chargers, making charging both more intelligent, and greener.
Alongside these local E-STOR hubs, a central E-STOR Cluster system, which uses around 1000 second-life batteries – including those from Renault – and can store 14.5MWh of energy, will be used to rapidly charge the smaller, local hubs within the system. Think of it like a reservoir of electricity, flow from which can be directed to where it is required. In total, the SmartHubs project can store enough power to keep 1695 homes going for a full day.
As well as the SmartHubs project in Sussex, Renault has commissioned the first Advanced Battery Storage system at the Renault Georges Besse plant in Douai, France. It has a total storage capacity of 50MWh across several sites and operates in a similar fashion to the project in the UK – storing power and supplying it when demand is high, then charging when demand is lower.
The ABS system uses both second-life and new batteries, the latter of which can themselves be reused in future and total 5MWh. And just like its counterpart in the UK, the ABS scheme is being carried out in collaboration with local, regional and national support from relevant bodies.
Renault has been one of the most active car manufacturers when it comes to repurposing its spent EV batteries. In Paris, used batteries from its Z.E. range have been installed in boats to support the de-carbonisation of the River Sein in central Paris.
In Porto Santo, Portugal, spent Z.E. batteries have been a central part of the Smart Fossil Free Island project, acting as power banks for both solar and wind energy generation, being released into the local grid when either the sun stops shining, or the wind dies down. And these are just two of the higher profile projects that the brand is involved in.
Renault's announcement at its eWays event follows BMW's partnership with Off Grid Energy, to create off-grid power supplies for various purposes, being made public.