Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Renault teams with Connected Energy to reuse car batteries in smart energy applications

Steve Rogerson
February 16, 2016
 
French car maker Renault and UK SME Connected Energy are partnering to develop sustainable and efficient ways of using electric vehicle batteries at the end of their useable in-vehicle life to supply innovative and more affordable vehicle charging systems.
 
At the end of their useful in-vehicle life, Renault EV batteries still have considerable remaining capacity, which means that they can continue to give service in other applications before they are ultimately recycled. And with rapidly increasing EV sales – 97,687 EVs were sold in Europe in 2015, up 48 per cent on 2014 – so is the requirement in energy to charge them.
 
Through its E-Stor technology, Connected Energy is offering a solution to this problem through the use of second-life EV batteries.
 
They can be used, for example, to store energy generated from on-site renewable generation resources such as solar panels and wind turbines, and then release it as it’s needed later. The system also allows the batteries to be charged via low-cost off-peak electricity tariffs, enabling users to reduce their energy costs.
 
The batteries used are Renault EV batteries. The first E-Stor product is nominally rated at 50kW/50kWhr, which could typically be used to support one rapid charger or a cluster of fast chargers, but the system is fully scalable and higher capacity units will follow.
 
In practical terms, as well as allowing more efficient use of energy, the system can also enable installation of rapid electric vehicle charging in sites where electricity supply would traditionally only allow slower rates. Instead of charging vehicles via a high-capacity supply directly from the grid, E-Stor allows multiple batteries to be charged at a slower rate over a period of time, ready to release their energy and charge a car when needed by an EV driver.
 
Renault offers two concrete services with its electric vehicles and their batteries through E-Stor. First to the grid, by providing energy storage that prevents power grid overload and balances supply and demand. Second to the environment, because batteries not fitted for automobile use, but that still have considerable remaining capacity, can have a longer life and lower carbon footprint before they are actually recycled.
 
“E-Stor will enable the more cost-effective roll-out of electric vehicles in commercial and industrial settings, thus increasing the overall sustainability of this clean form of transport,” said Matthew Lumsden, managing director of Connected Energy. “With Renault we have secured the supply of second life batteries for future E-Stor installations.”
 
Renault has sold electric vehicles since 2011, offering a range of 100 per cent electric cars and vans to suit most requirements. The Zoe supermini sits alongside the fun and distinctive Twizy urban run-around, which is also available in a commercial vehicle version with a boot instead of a rear passenger seat – Twizy Cargo. Completing the Renault ZE (zero emissions) line-up is the Kangoo Van ZE, a compact van for urban deliveries and available in a range of body styles.
 
“The second-life application of Renault electric vehicle batteries supports Renault’s commitment to the energy transition in the automotive industry,” said Eric Feunteun, Renault’s electric vehicle programme director. “Through E-Stor, EV owners can charge their car at reduced costs with electricity that is less carbon-dependent. It makes driving an EV a smart and even more sustainable transportation solution. With this energy management technology, EVs and their batteries become an asset for the grid rather than create overload.”
 
Connected Energy was set up by parent company Future Transport Systems to commercialise a range of technologies and services developed through in-house research and development activity. Both companies are UK SMEs with offices in Newcastle upon Tyne and Norfolk.