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.
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.
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.