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Duke Energy and ITOCHU to assess second-life applications for Li-ion automotive batteries

Duke Energy and Tokyo-based ITOCHU Corp. signed an agreement to collaborate on advanced energy technologies, starting with the evaluation and testing of second-life applications for electric vehicle batteries. Duke Energy and ITOCHU’s program builds upon their involvement in Project Plug-IN, a large-scale public/private EV initiative based in Indianapolis.

According to some auto industry estimates, electric vehicle (EV) batteries that can no longer charge to approximately 80% of their original capacity may be candidates for replacement. Duke Energy and ITOCHU believe batteries that become unsuitable for use in EVs could live on in other applications. Reuse possibilities for these batteries include providing a supplemental home energy supply, storing renewable power and providing a fast-charging power source for EVs.

To determine the technical feasibility and commercial viability of these second-life applications, Duke Energy and ITOCHU will first gather and analyze data from at least 2,000 kWh of Ener1 lithium-ion batteries deployed in a fleet of approximately 80 Think plug-in EVs. Initial testing will occur in Duke Energy’s Indiana service territory.

The companies will assess how EV batteries perform in their “second lives,” including stationary applications in homes, neighborhoods and commercial buildings. This pilot project will help Duke Energy and ITOCHU validate potential business models for future commercialization. In addition, the companies believe increasing the total lifetime value of batteries through second-life applications could help reduce initial battery cost.

Duke Energy will provide engineering design support for battery installations, as well as supply test sites and personnel. ITOCHU will provide its stationary energy storage infrastructure expertise to enable the reuse of automotive batteries.

Duke Energy has been working closely with auto manufacturers, charging infrastructure companies, other electric utilities and the Electric Drive Transportation Association for several years to understand and influence the development of the EV customer experience, as well as impacts to the power grid.

In January 2010, ITOCHU became the first international board member of the Energy Systems Network, the Indianapolis-based organization behind Project Plug-IN. In May 2010, ITOCHU launched the Green Crossover Project in the Japanese city of Tsukuba. The purpose of this initiative is to develop an EV battery reuse business model; enhance energy management; and build the infrastructure necessary to enable EV quick-charging and streamlined customer billing transactions.

ITOCHU is a long-term strategic partner of and current investor in Ener1; the company took an equity stake in Think earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

Comments

SJC

This is a good idea for grid stability. People switch on electric clothes dryers all the time or air conditioners in the summer.

3PeaceSweet

Even a really well used battery pack should still be able to give 10kWh's of power which should be enough to load shift most of an average houses (non EV) electricity demands.

Also if they where connected to the same system as a small SOFC, a 1kW fuel cell would produce around 5-7,000 kWh's a year of heat and electricity

Herm

You would not use them for load shifting since the heavy usage would accelerate the decline of the batteries, but for grid stabilization applications they are perfect, a 100kw load for a couple of minutes will not use much of the capacity life left in the battery. A couple of minutes is more than plenty for spinning reserve to step in.

SJC

CHP makes a lot of sense, but I am not optimistic about vast deployment. As long as natural gas and electricity are at reasonable prices, the homeowner may not want to make the investment. Buildings that use a lot of energy might, but I do not see a big shift yet.

Banks, hospitals and others that need uninterupted power put in ONSI MCFCs to make sure. They used some of the heat but it was steady reliable power that they were after. If we want more CHP it has to be sold on many fronts for people to make the move.

Zhukova

I like the idea of used Li-Ion car batteries for renewable storage. A $5,000 photovoltaic array, including batteries, can supply all the energy (10kwh/day) a BEV needs in United States (except on cloudy days). However, the PV array collects photons during the day when the vehicle is not available for charging. So you need batteries to store the 10 kwhs of solar energy, which will be used to charge the car at night.

This will probably have widespread use because the cost of PV arrays has plummeted and continues to fall and the energy is free. However, lead acid deep-discharge batteries cost only $100 per kwh. Will used Li-Ion batteries be cost effective for storing PV energy? Maybe it will be better to just recycle them.

Engineer-Poet

If you're generating excess RE during the day, it's more efficient and cheaper to move it over the grid to where users are than to obsessively store it. The battery in the car is a better place to put it than cycling from one battery to another. Besides, what do you do before you have a large inventory of used traction batteries?

Buffering sharp supply/demand excursions is where these things will find their home. Who cares if a sudden drain shortens their life? They're already on their second life. Soaking up energy slowly to run a fast charger at full rated power without overloading the grid or local feeder is just one way to address both real difficulties and false criticisms of electrified transport.

Zhukova

It's not cheaper to move it to the grid. To transfer PV energy to the grid, you need an expensive inverter. For a home PV system, 10 kwhs of Pb-acid batteries cost about $1,000. A grid tie inverter is more. With battery storage, you can charge the car batteries with DC. So you don't need the charger inverter either. I don't see how battery storage is less efficient for a home PV system. Inverters aren't 100% efficient.

Widespread use of home PV charging systems will also remove a lot of concern about grid supply, demand, improvements, substations, transformer overloading, etc. And most people would love to generate their own power independent from power company regulations and bills. Apartments dwellers can't put up a 10 kwh/day PV array, so their demand will still affect grid infrustructure.

Engineer-Poet
To transfer PV energy to the grid, you need an expensive inverter.
You need an inverter if you're going to use PV in your AC appliances, too.

There isn't much more complexity in a grid-tie inverter than a PC power supply; the difference in price is due to low production volume and costly certification requirements. Make ten million of them a year and all that will change.

Zhukova

Running appliances isn't part of the deal, if the PV system only produces 10 kwhs/day. That's enough for 30-40 miles of driving. Home battery storage also provides energy when it's needed, which is when people get home from work in the early evening. At that time, the PV output is gone and the grid is overloaded with air-conditioning demand. If the home batteries are charged up, the car batteries can be charged immediately. There is no need to wait until the rates go down at 10-11 PM, as with a grid-tie system. Again, such a home PV storage system reduces the need to redesign the grid infrastructure.

Engineer-Poet
Running appliances isn't part of the deal, if the PV system only produces 10 kwhs/day.
According to whom? If I paid time-of-day rates, I would be mighty upset if my expensive PV system wasn't able to run my refrigerator and A/C when electricity cost the most. If inverter prices come down to ~2x the cost of a computer power supply (which now seems to be about $0.10/watt), your 1 kW peak PV system would feed a 1.5 kW peak inverter (run at less than max rating) costing $300. The 10+ kWh ex-Volt battery is going to run you at least 10 times that, and you'll still need an inverter if you want to feed anything but the car; you'll need a DC-DC converter in any event.
Home battery storage also provides energy when it's needed, which is when people get home from work in the early evening.
Why not supply it from the unused capacity in the car battery, and replenish it overnight? DIY rate arbitrage.
the grid is overloaded with air-conditioning demand.
That's a separate problem, addressible with even cheaper technologies like ice storage.
If the home batteries are charged up, the car batteries can be charged immediately. There is no need to wait until the rates go down at 10-11 PM, as with a grid-tie system.
How long does it take you to recoup the cost of that battery with the savings from not paying early-evening rates when you want to take off right after dinner? Do you even save enough to pay the interest?
such a home PV storage system reduces the need to redesign the grid infrastructure.
The grid needs more redesign for "lumpier" load profiles. If you move banks of second-hand batteries to utility substations and fast-charger pods at convenience stores, they'll also be usable for load-levelling. You want to re-design the generation systems for minimum cost anyway, and shifting load around with grid-connected batteries makes it easier than everyone having single-purpose storage systems.
HarveyD

The fight between centralized e-energy production and decentralized customer orientated systems has just started.

Owners of centralized systems do not want competition from individual systems and they will do everything they can to stop it. They have deep pockets and will use their $$$ to pressure current and future politicians to lean in their favor. What is good for the Nation is not good for them. Who will win? In our free enterprise democracy, they will win.

Individual (home) production is currently much more expensive. Surpluses and shortages are expensive to manage efficiently. Using the existing grid via an inverter and 2-way meter is certainly less costly and more efficient for both. Here again, will grid operators and large producers cooperate? They will ask to be compensated. Making PHEV/BEV available for peaks may be an acceptable compensation? Nothing is free.

Zhukova

Running appliances isn't part of the deal was defined by me in my original argument. I'm talking about a PV system used only for recharging batteries. PV for the rest of the home is another issue partly because everything else needs alternating current.

Grid-tie inverters are expensive because they need to have very accurate 60 Hz operation, require a lot of mechanical assembly, carefully wound coils, and machined parts. I don't expect their price to decline as much as PV cells, which basically come off a totally automated printing press (at least with Nanosolar).

"Home battery storage also provides energy when it's needed, which is when people get home from work in the early evening.
Why not supply it from the unused capacity in the car battery"

I was talking about energy being available to charge the car battery, not to run appliances. This is about convenience to the consumer and keeping the load off the grid.

Cost and payback period is obviously an issue, but I think it is reasonable with today's PV technology.

One aspect I didn't mention is the possibility that Li-Ion batteries, depending on cost, could be used for home storage and to extend the range of the car when a long trip is necessary.

Finally, the concensus is that solar energy for the grid requires storage. The storage has to be somewhere and might as well be at the home. This takes load off the grid and give convenience and independance to the consumer. Lots of people want to be off the grid and solar is starting to help them to do it.

Engineer-Poet
Running appliances isn't part of the deal was defined by me in my original argument.
How many people would take this deal?
I'm talking about a PV system used only for recharging batteries.
How many people would find this preferable to a grid-tied system without dedicated storage?
Grid-tie inverters are expensive because they need to have very accurate 60 Hz operation, require a lot of mechanical assembly, carefully wound coils, and machined parts.
Oh, for pete's sake. The inverter gets its time reference from the grid, because grid frequency is always drifting away from 60.000 Hz; the CPU clock for the controller is good enough for everything else. Computer power supplies need exactly as much mechanical assembly. They use very similar coils (they are stock items). And what on earth requires machined parts, except for casings and stock terminals? You buy those off the shelf or from a shop which makes metal or plastic parts.

Your objections could only get more bogus if you invoked the phase of the moon or human sacrifice.

I was talking about energy being available to charge the car battery, not to run appliances. This is about convenience to the consumer and keeping the load off the grid.
Honestly, what's the difference... and which one is the consumer going to want to serve first because they're consuming power at higher demand rates? The appliance loads. And they're not going to want to have to pay for two batteries to get vehicular use out of just one of them.

From the POV of the grid, it makes more sense to use all available storage as buffers. This means it all needs to be on-line. Wheeling power across the grid from home PV to the car at work requires no new lines or transformers and allows the car to be used as a buffer all day (the difference between minimum required SOC and full charge is available buffer, and the car can be charged at any time before it's needed next). This eliminates one battery, one battery-management system, a DC-DC converter, and cuts a bunch of costs out of the grid (for regulation) for the cost of an inverter. Since inverters historically last longer than batteries, this is by far the sweeter deal.

Zhukova

It doesn't matter if you already have a grid-tie system and want to add 10 more 220 watt PV panels for car battery charging, or if you install only the PV system for charging the car batteries. Either way you need either a new inverter or battery storage. That's the deal.

The grid-tie inverters have to match the output phase to the line, need maximum power-point tracking, and anti-islanding protection. This technology is obviously more complex thn an inverter supplied with a backup generator. If the inverter has coils (not all do), aren't they machined parts? I believe the grid-tie inverters are complex and require more labor to build than PV panels. That's why I think their cost will not reduce as fast. But time will tell.

Transformers will be required because at the community level, recharging large numbers of car batteries will overload the existing local transformers. Most people won't be satisfied with trickle charging and they will want 60,000 watt chargers at home to charge in 5-10 minutes. Duke and ITOCHU seem to have this in mind as described in the second paragraph.

Zhukova

What happens when rapidly falling PV prices result in 20-30% of homes have PVs and EVs? Without storage, the power company will have to buy a lot of power it can't use during the day. They will have to install coal and nuclear to meet increased demand in the evening.

Storage at the source removes grid-related issues like purchasing unusable PV energy, new power plants, transformer and substation upgrades, new transmission lines, fuel mining and distribution, CO2, for which consumers would have to pay anyway. The economics and cloudy day operation remain to be seen, but hopefully Duke and ITOCHU can explain this.

Zhukova

Being able to charge the car while it's at parked at the workplace definitely reduces some need for home storage. In that case the PV energy can be sold to the power company from the home PV system and bought (at a higher price?) workplace receptacle. But the car still has to be driven home and will need at least half a day's charge there in the evening.

Engineer-Poet
Either way you need either a new inverter or battery storage. That's the deal.
In other words, the panel output has to go somewhere to be useful. This is Blindingly Obvious.
The grid-tie inverters have to match the output phase to the line
Trivially easy.
need maximum power-point tracking
No it doesn't, but it's not difficult... and a battery charger benefits just as much.
and anti-islanding protection
That is the major difference. Certifying that an inverter is safe to connect to the grid costs money, but a design only has to be certified once. Volume production slashes the per-unit cost.
This technology is obviously more complex thn an inverter supplied with a backup generator.
You forget that most of this is software. It is written, tested and certified once, then copied over the entire production run of units. It is a non-recurring expenditure (NRE).
If the inverter has coils (not all do), aren't they machined parts?
See this description of ferrite core manufacture. Toroids are typically formed by dry-pressing of powders followed by sintering.
I believe the grid-tie inverters are complex and require more labor to build than PV panels.
The inverter can be built using automated pick-and-place parts insertion followed by wave, infrared or vapor reflow soldering. Inverters are not inherently large (unlike PV panels).
Transformers will be required because at the community level, recharging large numbers of car batteries will overload the existing local transformers. Most people won't be satisfied with trickle charging and they will want 60,000 watt chargers at home to charge in 5-10 minutes.
Most people are going to look at what a 60 kW charger will cost just in monthly utility fees for the demand charge and adjust their expectations real fast. If they want a 5-minute charge they'll pay the service station on the corner, and be happy with an overnight charge in their own garage.
Engineer-Poet
What happens when rapidly falling PV prices result in 20-30% of homes have PVs and EVs? Without storage, the power company will have to buy a lot of power it can't use during the day.
But the price the producers will get for it will fall toward zero during the bright hours of the day, too. Either the producers can make a profit on it anyway (not likely) or they'll just stop buying PV.
Storage at the source removes grid-related issues like purchasing unusable PV energy, new power plants, transformer and substation upgrades, new transmission lines, fuel mining and distribution, CO2, for which consumers would have to pay anyway.
Creating a parallel electrical system doesn't allow the use of the vehicle batteries as buffers for the grid. You're failing to consider what happens when the daily output of the PV system (gasp!) varies due to weather and seasons! What do you do?

A grid-tied PV system can offset the CO2 budget of normal grid loads, from electric stoves to the PC you're using to post to GCC. A dedicated vehicle-only power system can't.

the car still has to be driven home and will need at least half a day's charge there in the evening.
Maybe not, if it retains enough charge to get back to work in the morning. Regardless, at current prices the overnight charge is by far the cheapest. A PV system which offsets all daytime-peaking demand on the sunniest days allows everything but the baseload generators to shut down some of the time. That may be the cheapest option, and it's not too far from it at worst.

Zhukova

By law the producers have to pay the consumer for excess PV energy put back into the grid. I guess in the long run they can get the law changed and stop buying it. That doesn't help the PV industry much. And what will the homeowner do with the excess? This is another good reason to store it.

It's true that weather affects the output of PV. So if large numbers of people have PV, and the sun goes behind he clouds, load goes way up on the grid. This is the main reason storage is necessary if PV ever becomes a large segment of the grid.

Engineer-Poet
By law the producers have to pay the consumer for excess PV energy put back into the grid.
Yes, so? If there's so much PV on the grid that it's getting toward a power-glut on sunny days, the producers could just pay the PV owners the spot price minus a fee for carrying the juice. If that's less than it costs the PV owners to finance new panels, they'll stop installing new panels. The problem is self-limiting.

Flexible loads such as plug-in vehicles and ice-storage air conditioners can take advantage of cheap power and keep the price from falling to zero for longer, but this arbitrage also moves demand away from times of supply constraint and limits price peaks as well. That's more or less what we want, isn't it?

SJC

For years the PURPA laws provided only "avoided cost" or payment for the utility's cost of production. It took decades for that to become more just. Events move slowly but at times grind in the right direction.

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