Electric car batteries will soon be finding a new use in powering homes and businesses through a new joint venture between car manufacturing giant Nissan and power management specialist Eaton.
The Lithium-ion batteries in Nissan’s electric vehicle models, such as the Leaf, are valuable components that often outlive the life of the car and are currently recycled even though they still have valuable life left in them.
“The batteries as power units far outlast the typical life of a car,” said Robert Lujan, electric vehicle director for Nissan Global. “Having produced our own electric vehicle batteries at our leading manufacturing sites for many years, this scheme will allow us to expand the life of our existing 24kWh product, therefore reducing the need to use additional resources from the planet to produce new batteries.”
Eaton and Nissan demonstrated a working system in a Paris house, near to where the COP21 climate conference is taking place. The house’s power switched from the grid to the Nissan battery to power the building’s lighting and other electrical circuits. The ex-car battery can store up energy generated by solar panels or from the grid when it is just cheaper to purchase and use that to power an entire home. One battery could be enough to power the elctricity needs of a small hosue for several days.
The system uses Eaton’s power electronics and control software to manage the charging and discharging of the batteries with renewable energy sources such as solar panels, in a single packaged system that Eaton says can be installed in hours by electricians who don’t need to be specially trained.
Cyrille Brisson, vice president marketing for Eaton’s electrical business in EMEA, added: “These systems will really facilitate the wider adoption and deployment of renewable generation, giving people greater control over their energy supply and consumption.
“The multiple benefits of such a unit include continuity of supply, increased grid stability and efficiency, avoidance of peak energy tariffs and reducing the reliance on expensive fuels like diesel to compensate for no-grid or poor-grid situations,” Brisson said.
Eaton and Nissan believe their joint venture will also help to provide cleaner, safer, cheaper and more reliable power to Africa and other places with a poor power infrastructure or off-grid power sources.
“Over three billion people rely on polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting and heating methods that are expensive and have serious health impacts. Enabling the delivery of cleaner, more affordable energy to these people, including the 1.2 billion people who have no access to electricity at all, will really make a difference,” Brisson added.
The batteries could also be used by data centres or generation companies who wish to store energy from the uneven generation of renewables.