PARIS: Renault, one of the first mainstream companies to move into the electric car market, is teaming up with a home energy start-up, Powervault, on a project that could make home solar power systems affordable and simultaneously give a new life to older electric car batteries.
Renault's old EV car batteries are going to be used in Powervault home energy storage units that will enable consumers with solar panels installed on their properties to harvest and store electricity generated through the panels for later use rather than drawing energy from the grid; or to take and store electricity from the grid at the most affordable, off-peak times.
Though still very much in the early adopter phase, home-energy storage systems have been getting mainstream media coverage in recent months thanks to premium companies like Tesla, and Mercedes parent Daimler moving into the segment with products.
And the problem is that many current systems come with a premium price tag thanks to the cost of the batteries needed. However, by using old EV car batteries, the prices for these systems can be cut by 30%. And it's why Joe Warren, Powervault's MD, called the collaboration "An important milestone on our journey towards achieving mainstream adoption of home energy storage."
Current generation batteries used in electric cars start to lose their ability to retain charge within eight-to-10 years, after which time they're no longer able to cope with the daily charging-recharging cycle.
However, they're still perfectly adequate static, long-term energy storage, and by finding another use for the cells, Renault won't have to physically recycle the battery.
"The second life use not only gives additional life to electric vehicle batteries before they are recycled, but also allows consumers to save money. It's a win-win-win: for EV owners, home-owners and the planet," said Renault programme director for EV batteries and infrastructures Nicolas Schottey.
The collaboration will officially get under way in July with 50 test units that will be offered to households in Britain that already have solar energy panels installed. This pilot scheme will test the capabilities of recycled batteries as well as consumer sentiment towards the technology.