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California Study to Explore Repurposing EV Batteries for Household Energy Storage

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) will lead a joint research study of how the useful lifespan of electric vehicle batteries could be extended by repurposing them as household electric storage devices with a $992,000 grant from the University of California.

The grant was awarded by the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center, a division of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. Partnering with CCSE in the one-year study are San Diego Gas and Electric; AeroVironment Inc. of Monrovia, Calif.; Flux Power of Vista, Calif.; and the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC Berkeley.

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), whether full-battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, hold significant potential for reducing petroleum consumption and decreasing or even eliminating smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, according to Mike Ferry, CCSE’s transportation program manager and principal investigator for the study.

However, the high cost of advanced automotive lithium battery packs utilized by PEVs constitutes a major obstacle to the wide-scale adoption of these vehicles.

The new study will establish viable applications for PEV batteries beyond their use in vehicles and quantify the value of the batteries in these secondary applications.

Even after the end of usable battery life in the vehicle, the batteries will retain 70 to 80 percent of their residual capacity and be highly valued for stationary energy usage and other smart grid applications. A viable secondary market for advanced automotive batteries could cut initial battery costs by spreading those costs over their entire useful lifetime.

—Mike Ferry

The study will evaluate three different lithium battery types at test sites that will allow SDG&E to remotely charge and discharge them in response to simulated and real grid conditions. The study will also determine if a specific battery chemistry or a particular battery management system is superior for overall lifetime battery value.

CCSE administers the statewide Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, a program funded by the California Air Resources Board to provide rebates for battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles. A total of $3.7 million is currently appropriated for vehicle rebates and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Comments

stomv

Why put them in households? Why not battery-bank them? Occupy warehouses in low value industrial areas near decent power infrastructure, and simply charge each night and discharge each day?

The infrastructure likely scales efficiently, and as batteries crap out they get cycled (pardon the pun) out for more effective ones.

Depending on the night/day price variation, the cost of the infrastructure, and the cost of disposal I don't know if the battery farm would buy batteries or charge money to collect them (and eventually dispose of them properly), but it seems far more efficient for a few large installations than thousands of one-offs, in terms of equipment, expertise, timing w.r.t. the grid, and so forth.

stomv

Why put them in households? Why not battery-bank them? Occupy warehouses in low value industrial areas near decent power infrastructure, and simply charge each night and discharge each day?

The infrastructure likely scales efficiently, and as batteries crap out they get cycled (pardon the pun) out for more effective ones.

Depending on the night/day price variation, the cost of the infrastructure, and the cost of disposal I don't know if the battery farm would buy batteries or charge money to collect them (and eventually dispose of them properly), but it seems far more efficient for a few large installations than thousands of one-offs, in terms of equipment, expertise, timing w.r.t. the grid, and so forth.

Will S

Note that this would be after they had served their viable lifetime in a vehicle;

"Even after the end of usable battery life in the vehicle, the batteries will retain 70 to 80 percent of their residual capacity and be highly valued for stationary energy usage and other smart grid applications."

Engineer-Poet

I don't know about warehouses, but putting the batteries close to the point of use minimizes grid load during the times they would be discharging.

Paul

Why put them in households?
1) To store PV solar energy during the day.
2) Charge up off peak to use during peak.
A 25 kwh pack, typical of an EV with 100 mile range will supply an average residence for a day.

HarveyD

Paul's application has merit specially when coupled with home solar cells. Overnight rates may go up when many million EVs are charging. That's good business sense.

A very recent study carried out by 250 scientists for our local Hydro Co. (Quebec Hydro) forecast that Northern area temperatures will go up by about +1C (Average) every 10 years for the next 60 years with 15% to 20% more rain/snow falls in the Northern part of the province where most of the large Hydro plants are. All Northern area Hydro plants will potentially produce more. The energy required for home heating will be progressively be less. Hydro energy surpluses will be more than enough for 1.5 to 2.0 EVs per resident. Wouldn't be surprised if Hydro Quebec gets involve into a generous EV support program to sell its surplus energy.

automation

Climate change is a global problem, and yet each one of us has the power to make a difference. Even small changes in our daily behaviour can help prevent greenhouse gas emissions without affecting our quality of life. In fact, they can help save us money!

citizen

I feel that this is yet another million dollar waste - throw federal or other government money at primarily government & university agencies, who churn the money but rarely come up with anything useful or reportable.

mahonj

It is all a bit marginal.
Suppose you can shift 20 KWh from 10c to 20c / KwH.
That is e2.00 / day per pack or e730 / year.
(I am assuming you can only discharge to 80% in this case.)
It depends how much you pay for the batteries - say e4K - you have a 5.5 year payback, assuming 0 % finance.

If you want to pay someone to look after them in a warehouse, you would need quite a few ( say > 100) to be able to afford a salary, then you need rent, etc.

I think they would be better in warehouses rather than individual garages - looking after a 25KWh battery might not be for everyone, and one battery could buffer several homes, rather than just one.

I guess it all depends on the depletion curve you can expect for any given battery type, i.e. what is the power remaining after 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 discharges - you might find it better to reduce the maximum charge depletion to increase the life of the battery.

Since every battery will be different (both in terms of history and build), you would probably need s/w to manage a set of different battery types.

Interesting, though and useful for load shaping or peak shaving.

I can't see anyone making a lot of money on them, unless they can get the batteries very cheap, OR find a way of rejuvenating them or using them so they do not degrade so quickly.

Sirkulat

Other reasons for household installation:

1) Households gain the means to survive emergency grid failure.
2) Households gain the means to better monitor energy consumption.
3) Households gain the choice of whether to drive or cut utility bills.
4) As fewer and shorter 'drives' become the norm, more 'routine travel' can be accomplished without having to drive.

Emergency drill: Pretend the grid goes down. Determine which electrical appliances are essential, which are non-essential. Monitor electricity consumption as minimal appliances are restored power running solely on batteries from a plug-in car or in a battery closet.

5) There are additional advantages to household battery closet installation, but these are the main ones.

HarveyD

Yes Sirkulat. There's a lot to be said about having your own e-energy production and reserve. People living in very sunny places could, with enough hardware, become mostly e-energy independent.

In cold places with plenty of low cost Hydro-electricity, it is another story.

sulleny

One must consider that the very first (and lowest power density) batteries are all built to a 10 year minimum life cycle. So, ten years from now a few thousand used car batteries MIGHT be available for sale. Provided the cost of disassembling the EV is minimal.

Long before then, an enterprising entrepreneur will have groked the idea for electronics to allow V2H-ome UPS services. Solar packagers will be vying for ways to build PV storage systems from EV batteries. It has yet to be seen if these used batteries are better applied to storage solutions or recycled into new batteries with 100% capacity.

IF the used EV units can be obtained cheap enough there may be a viable application "time shifting" grid energy in high cost utility areas. Charge overnight, discharge into local loads during peak - save on e-billing.

Roger Pham

What about calendar life of the batteries? Battery capacity will deteriorate even without use. Depending on how long the battery was left on the car, after 7-10 years, what percentage of capacity will be available?

sheckyvegas

Roger, it all depends on how many batteries you have tied together, what their rating is, etc. The battery management systems that come now with most residential gel-packs do a good job of regulating and maintaining constant load but, like all else, it depends on the individual batteries.
As you know, even the batteries on your car eventually die (7-10 years? You don't drive much, do ya?) so there's no reason to not expect the ones in the garage battery bank to do the same. We'll eventually come to a "time to change the battery, hon'" lifestyle, just like when you change the filters for the air conditioner.

Henry Gibson

The ZEBRA battery, sodium nickel chloride, is fabricated mostly out of metal and can have a very long life, and now that GE is making its Durathon version it should also be included in the tests. Even if a few cells fail completely in a ZEBRA battery it can still be used at the slightly lower voltage because the cells fail shorted. Used ZEBRA cells could also be repackaged with other usable ZEBRA cells in new cheaper insulated stationary packages. With failed cell replacement such batteries can last forever. Nickel iron batteries had a lifetime of up to 100 years or more and more efficient versions can still be made. Every home should have a large ZEBRA battery or equivalent. ..HG..

ToppaTom

ANOTHER million dollar STUDY.

Paid for by California, no less.

These guys are nuts.

But not to worry, this will NOT bankrupt California.
. . This is why they ARE bankrupt.

“Even after the end of usable battery life in the vehicle, the batteries will retain 70 to 80 percent of their residual capacity . .”

I thought they would have 100% of their residual capacity.

But there ARE no batteries from EVs.

There won’t be any very soon.

When there are, this out of date study will have to be re-done, if we even need a study (we won't).

When there are unusable batteries from EVs they won’t have no stinking 80% left; who’s going to junk $10,000 worth of batteries because their range went from 100 mi to 80?

When there are unusable batteries from EVs, and if they were usable for peak power, put them together - I think that scattering them all over, like the Chinese tried with home iron smelters, would not work except for a few fringe geeks, with time to waste.

citizen and mahonj have it exactly right.

SJC

Distributed peak shaving makes sense. These batteries might be installed and maintained by the utility companies. Less load on the grid during peak use in the summer afternoons means longer life for the transmission gear.

Engineer-Poet

Not only that, it means that load can be transferred to resources which peak in the evening or late at night (e.g. California wind). Handling these loads when ambient temps are lower increases the energy-carrying capacity of the grid; more power can be carried for the same temperature in the transformer.

HarveyD

When enough PHEVs and BEVs have to be recharged daily, i.e 100++ million home smart chargers could become the best all around power network load equalizer. E-power suppliers could easily (remote) control the charge rate of every smart charger. This way, overnight power usage could be similar to average day time and all EVs still connected could help during peak demand. Of course, power sold back to the grid would be at least at 3x normal rate. In other words, charge @ $0.10/Kwh and sell it back @ $0.30/Kwh. This could offset some of the battery pack initial cost.

sulleny

Harvey, not sure the utils will want to buy V2G power at $.30 /kWh they just sold for $.10. But they could be mandated to buy it at some net profit to the seller.

If however, the electrification of North America is to be successful we will have to implement residential distributed energy. This means huge opportunities for domestic manufacturing as portions of municipal grids are retired and replaced by Residential Power Units functioning as combined heat, power and cooling systems.

Initially this shifts fuel consumption away from aging coal fired plants to much cleaner and lower emission GHG, methane/NG. Minimizing the need to build new power plants, maintain aging grid hardware, and removal of old power lines.

HarveyD

sulleny:

Some e-power producers are already paying $0.30+/Kwh for green energy produced by private customers. I think they would also pay as much for peak demand energy when and if required.

Agree with you that more domestic clean e-power would reduce the load on the power networks and reduce the need for more coal fired power plants. Lower cost PVs + lower cost large (20 to 40 KWh?) long life stationary storage batteries are required to make such system viable. PHEV/BEV owners could quick charge (DC to DC) at just about any time. There are no reasons why such systems could not be installed now or very soon in sunny places. The technologies required are here already.

SJC

I could see these batteries in garages for home use, but also to provide quick charging for EVs. If I get home and I need 10 kWh in 15 minutes to do some more errands, I don't need to go to a quick charge station.

HarveyD

That is the idea SJC. Now, how can we get the program going?

Herm Perez

Carlos Ghosn has stated the batteries will be good for 15-20 years in secondary usage.. but I feel ToppaTom is right, people will junk these packs when they are DEAD, not just 80% down.. in any case they would make a hell of a battery for a home UPS or to buffer your solar installation.

Project Better Place will have many of these batteries sitting unused in the swap stations, they can make a tidy side profit selling grid stabilization to the local power company.

SJC

Harvey,

First you have to have LOTS of used PHEV battery packs, I would say that this is a ways off in the future.

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