Renault plans foray into energy market with mega battery

Wed Jun 7, 2017 1:24pm EDT
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By Christoph Steitz and Edward Taylor

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Renault-Nissan is drawing up plans to build a 100 megawatt power storage plant in Europe, sources told Reuters, hoping to give electric car batteries a second life in a project that could eventually compete with utility companies.

Like rival Tesla's energy storage business, the Renault-Nissan move underscores its desire to cultivate a second-hand battery market while encouraging the development of energy infrastructure that works for electric cars.

The Renault-Nissan alliance plant, which has yet to be built, would be big enough to power 120,000 homes, or supplant the role of a gas- or coal-fired power station in meeting peak electricity demand on the grid, the sources said.

Rather than generating power, a storage plant charges up in times of excess supply and sells electricity back to the grid when needed. Proponents say such plants can play a key role in smoothing out unpredictable wind and solar power generation.

Renault-Nissan is working in partnership with energy storage specialist The Mobility House on the mega battery which would be assembled from new or used electric car batteries, one of the sources said.

"We're working with The Mobility House on several programs including a major energy storage project that is currently still in the study phase," Renault spokeswoman Celine Farissier said, declining to give further details.

Makers of electric cars stand to benefit from the creation of a market for used lithium-ion batteries that can no longer power vehicles to drive far enough. Higher second-hand battery values could help bring down the cost of electric cars and mega batteries are one avenue for recycling the power cells.

Nissan, 44 percent-owned by French alliance partner Renault, has already built a back-up power storage system for the Amsterdam Arena, which is home to soccer club Ajax, in a first partnership with the German start-up.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: The new battery of the Renault electric car Z.E. is displayed on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo