EV batteries head to energy storage frontier

With the thousands of minds and millions of dollars put into developing electric vehicle car batteries, it makes sense that companies are starting to “think outside the car.”

Meaning, they are now looking for the next application for energy storage. 

As energy grids get smarter and renewables account for a greater portion of the grid, operators are seeking new energy storage technologies to smooth out energy demands instead of relying on power plants running during peak use times.

According to Pike Research, there’s an estimated $122 billion in potential deployments over the next ten years. Looking to carve out their piece of the pie, both Coda and Nissan are making moves to bring their car battery expertise into the wider arena for energy storage.

Although their first electric sedan is just rolling out this year, Coda didn’t stop to take a breath before launching Coda Energy, a new division focused on grid energy storage systems.

Without having to reinvent the wheel, Coda aims to develop scalable energy storage systems using the lithium-ion battery system designed for their electric vehicles along with their battery management and active thermal systems.

Realizing there are many different applications and needs for energy storage, they’ll keep the technology as adaptable as possible, using modular design that can scale up or scale down for use by microgrids, the security sector, transportation sector, or EV fleet management.

Nissan is taking another approach, utilizing not just the technology, but the actual battery packs that go in their electric Nissan Leaf vehicles. The high cost of electric vehicles is from the most valuable component – the battery, and any value that can be recouped is worth the effort. 

The average electric vehicle battery has a relatively long life, retaining up to 70 percent capacity after ten years of use – much longer than most people keep their cars before looking for an upgrade.

Nissan has started thinking about what’s next for these batteries, partnering with ABB, a leader in power and technology, to create energy storage systems and back-up power sources from the lithium-ion packs reclaimed from their vehicles.

Their first goal is to develop a battery storage prototype that can store at least 50 kilowatt hours, enough to power 30 homes for one hour to determine the viability of re-using their Nissan Leaf batteries.

By successfully extending the life of these valuable battery systems, Nissan will get more bang for their initial buck and contribute to a more sustainable energy system.

To effectively implement smart-grid technology and integrate more solar and wind energy into our grid, energy storage plays a central part in the complex system.

It only makes sense that the companies already mastering mobile energy storage put their knowledge to use and make their technology as adaptable as possible to solve our energy needs whether in the car, office, or at home.

Angeli Duffin, EarthTechling