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Sumitomo installs first large-scale power system using used EV batteries

Sumitomo Corporation has developed and installed the first large-scale power storage system which utilizes used batteries collected from electric vehicles. This commercial scale storage system, built on Yume-shima Island, Osaka, will begin operating in February 2014.

Sumitomo Corporation created the joint venture company, 4R Energy Corporation, in collaboration with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in September 2010, to address the secondary use of EV lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) The used EV batteries that will be recycled into this large-scale storage system have been recovered and have gone through thorough inspection and maintenance at 4R, to confirm safety and performance. This prototype system (600kW/400kWh) consists of sixteen used EV batteries.

Over the next three years, the system will measure the smoothing effect of energy output fluctuation from the nearby “Hikari-no-mori,” solar farm, and will aim to establish a large-scale power storage technology by safely and effectively utilizing the huge quantities of discarded used EV batteries which will become available in the future.


This project has been selected as a model project for “Verification of the battery storage control to promote renewable energy” for the fiscal year 2013 by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan.

Sumitomo will seek new business opportunities which can make use of the highly economical storage system, as well as work on developing new applications for used EV batteries. The company aims to actively promote this approach, which can both contribute to expanding the use of EV and encourage the use of renewable energy.


Nick Lyons

ai_vin: Germany is building new coal plants, which burn dirty domestic brown coal, that can follow load, so as to be backup for renewables (wind and solar). In Germany, the push for renewables has led to expensive electricity and increasing carbon emissions. What a deal.


Germany is also the EU’s largest hard coal importer, about 77% of the national consumption was imported in 2010. When the new plants were planned America was in their sights: The shale gas boom in the US made coal production relatively cheap. From 2007 to 2011 German coal imports from the US rose by roughly 150 percent, while imports from South Africa were cut by two thirds during the same timeframe. However, German hard coal imports dropped from just over 56 million in 2007 to around 46 million short tons in 2009. The official figures on gross power consumption for Germany from 2010 to 2012 show that power production from hard coal hardly moved at all – from 117 terawatt-hours in 2010 to 118 in 2012, and it was even slightly lower in 2011. So yes they are using more of their own brown coal. But they are burning it in new power plants and closing down older ones and even the new ones were built so as to be closed down as soon as possible. EuroCoal reports that lignite coal use should remain stable until 2020, but will likely disappear as an energy source by 2050 while the market for hard coal halves by 2020 and then halves again by 2050. Coal production in Germany is subsidised and the move is on to end that sooner rather than later.

Expensive electricity really isn't a problem here, it's actually a solution. High prices for electricity, like other things, encourages conservation. Energy efficiency lowers demand and makes 100% renewable more obtainable. The Germans view coal power only as a "bridge" so the increasing carbon emissions we see now are only a temporary problem.


On German coal use;

Is the price of electricity going up or down?


Let's put this another way: From 2011-2012 the Germans generated 8.3% less electricity from nuclear power and 15% less electricity from natural gas but only generated 5.1% more electricity from coal. The difference was madeup by renewable & conservation: From 2011-2012 German electricity production from renewable energy sources increased 9.3% to become 22% of total generation.

The recent increase in carbon emissions is small, 1.6% in 2012, when compared to their longer term reductions: During the period since 2005-2011 when electricity generation from renewables nearly doubled, German emissions fell 8.1%.

A longer view is critical here. Germany has reduced its emissions 27% since 1990 and surpassed its targets under the Kyoto protocol in 2009.


With the growth of their economy AND strange weather driving up the need for heating one should expect the Germans to be using much more energy, so rather than being a failure the growth of renewable energies has helped to keep the rise in greenhouse gas emissions in check.

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