The spiritual among us will view Sumitomo and Nissan's installation of its first-ever used-electric-vehicle-battery storage as a bit of divine reincarnation. But the idea is quite logical and practical. The two companies formed the 4R Energy Corporation in late 2010 and have now installed what they call the world's first "large-scale power storage system" using exclusively used batteries from battery-electric vehicles in Osaka, Japan.

The system uses 16 electric-vehicle batteries to create what's called a "smoothing effect" on the power output of a nearby solar farm by storing excess energy generated by the panels during sunnier times, then sending it back to the system when it is sun-constrained. Yes, that's a fancy word for dark.

Spurred by Japan's Ministry of the Environment, Sumitomo and Nissan announced the collaboration, whose four Rs stand for "Reuse, Resell, Refabricate and Recycle," in 2009 and launched it a year later. Nissan, which was obviously trying to boost resale value for its battery-electric Leaf at the time by finding a money-generating home for its used-up battery packs, estimated at the time that sales of the Leaf battery-electric would generate 50,000 battery packs available for the secondary market by 2020. Check out Sumitomo's press release about the new system below.
Show full PR text
World's First Large-Scale Power Storage System Made From Reused EV Batteries Completed in Japan

TOKYO, Feb. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Sumitomo Corporation (Head Office: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President and CEO: Kuniharu Nakamura) has developed and installed the world's first large-scale power storage system which utilizes used batteries collected from electric vehicles (hereinafter : EV). This commercial scale storage system, built on Yume-shima Island, Osaka, will begin operating in February 2014.

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 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. 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.

Battery Business Development Department General Manager, Norihiko Nonaka said, "We are pleased to be a part of such an important verification project that can both utilize used EV batteries, and provide a large-scale power storage facility, which are important issues that need to be addressed for the future of renewable energy."

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. Sumitomo is committed to the movement toward lowering the carbon footprint of a sustainable society.
About Sumitomo
Sumitomo Corporation is a leading global trading company, with 116 locations in 65 countries and 24 locations in Japan. The entire Sumitomo Corporation Group consists of nearly 800 companies and more than 70,000 personnel. The SC business is continuously expanding into a diverse range of products and services. Its core business units are Metal Products; Transportation &Construction Systems; Environment & Infrastructure; Media, Network, Lifestyle Related Goods & Services; and Mineral Resources, Energy, Chemical & Electronics.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      Jim1961
      • 18 Hours Ago
      If we rank EV sales by kW-h of batteries, Tesla owns a huge portion of the market. That's a lot of batteries to recycle. Tesla will eventually own a huge share of the grid storage market. Teslà wins again.
        paulwesterberg
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @Jim1961
        I think that Solar City has agreements with Tesla to use older batteries to store solar power.
          Joeviocoe
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          By "older", they mean older specs. Less energy dense. Which is just fine for stationary energy storage.
          DadioBob
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          I've got a Tesla battery pack in my garage now installed by Solar City. Wish I could afford a Tesla Model X as well :~) Also wish the local utility wouldn't cause so much trouble hooking it up so it would actually be useful !
          Luciano
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          I'm not sure that deal is to use older batteries, but they are definitely using Tesla batteries. And I'm sure when older batteries start popping up left and right Tesla will find some use for it.
      Tweaker
      • 18 Hours Ago
      Leaf batteries are already being recycled into electric car conversions here. Tesla expects to sell a stand-alone battery late this year or next.
        Joeviocoe
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @Tweaker
        He's talking about battery packs with the older 180wh/kg - 200wh/kg cells... being sold to SolarCity. If you have a larger SolarCity setup that would need such storage.
        BipDBo
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @Tweaker
        Where did you hear about the Tesla batteries? Are they planning to also sell motors and controls? Any idea on prices?
      jeff
      • 18 Hours Ago
      This will the part of the life cycle of EV battery packs....
        Joeviocoe
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @jeff
        Also, many "lifecycle" Well-to-Wheels production emissions for EVs do NOT account for recycling of batteries either... but rather consider the battery pack "wasted".
        Joeviocoe
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @jeff
        And in the next few years... the economics will be revealed, and we will finally know how much a "replacement pack (with core return)" will actually cost consumers. Right now, most "guesses" about pack replacement costs do NOT include the potential resell value of a 70% capacity pack.
      BipDBo
      • 18 Hours Ago
      Most of the time, the grid has no need for any smoothing effect. Especially with solar generation, which compared to the consumption from the whole grid, it's peak power output is a drop in the bucket.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @BipDBo
        You could also auto-throttle your fossil fuel power in order to smooth out the fluctuations.
          jeff
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Too slow of a reaction to change in many systems...
        DaveMart
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @BipDBo
        ?Where did you get that idea from, and where are you talking about? Every time a cloud passes over the sun, that causes load variation, and in Germany for instance can lead to voltage reduction. This causes problems both locally and for the larger grid, and smoothing out is required at all time intervals. This also applies of course to wind.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @BipDBo
        Northwest WA's Horizon Power *requires* solar PV installations to regulate their power output, making power "smoothing" a necessity. BipDBo and paulwesterberg seem to focus on large timescales, where DaveMart correctly points out that the issue is on very short timescales, second to second and minute to minute. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/pv-storage-horizon-moves-closer-with-solar-smoothing-89523
          Joeviocoe
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-basics/how-do-solar-panels-work-in-cloudy-weather/ Yes, there are fluctuations that need smoothing as clouds pass by... but it is not as severe as just turning off the flow of electricity.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Similar systems have been demonstrated here in the US, and they're used as DaveMart mentions, to provide steady power when there are passing clouds, or when the solar incidence drops in the late afternoon. By evening, the batteries may be discharged, but can be utilized to store cheap excess windpower in a similar way.
          BipDBo
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          If the issue is more or less surge suppression, (small scale), then that makes sense. The article, however, which could be wrong, says that this is a large timescale issue throughout the course of day and night: "The system uses 16 electric-vehicle batteries to create what's called a "smoothing effect" on the power output of a nearby solar farm by storing excess energy generated by the panels during sunnier times, then sending it back to the system when it is sun-constrained. Yes, that's a fancy word for dark." I also agree with paulwesterberg's point, so I still don't buy the battery system's purpose, at least as the article has explained it.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 18 Hours Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          This 3-year prototype demonstration is an attempt to understand measure how batteries might be used to smooth energy output from the 10MW Hikari-no-mori solar farm. There's not a lot of actual storage at the moment, only 400kWh. http://www.photon.info/photon_news_detail_en.photon?id=84066 So, being a *demonstration*, it's not clear that even they know how they're actually going to be using the batteries as storage, yet. Basically, they've just hooked them up so they can see what happens.
        paulwesterberg
        • 18 Hours Ago
        @BipDBo
        Solar generation is becoming significant, but because its output curve is very similar to the demand curve on sunny days utilities can rely more on solar and invest less in costly peaker plants that are only pressed into service on rare occasions.
      eideard
      • 18 Hours Ago
      Not unlike pioneering work in Japan with Prius batteries in Toyota City.
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