Renault has announced the launch of its Advanced Battery Storage project, with the goal of building, by 2020, the largest stationary energy storage system ever developed in Europe, and to do so using the batteries of electric vehicles. The stated objective: to participate in the integration of renewable energy sources into electrical grids at a massive scale.
The project, unveiled on September 25 by Renault, is of a magnitude unprecedented in Europe: the diamond brand has announced the design of a stationary energy storage system solution, built entirely from the batteries of electric vehicles. Once complete, it will be able to store at least 60 MWh and deliver a power of 70 MW, making it the most high-capacity system of its kind ever created in Europe.
“One of the main challenges when it comes to increasing the share of renewable sources in the energy mix is to manage the discrepancies between electricity consumption and electricity production at a given moment”, explains Nicolas Schottey, Groupe Renault’s New Business Energy director.
The difficulty comes from maintaining a balance between supply and demand on the electricity grid by juggling different energy sources with inconsistent production capacities. The slightest difference between consumption and production causes disruptions that can compromise the stability of the electricity frequency (50 Hz).
“Our stationary energy storage system solution helps to compensate for those gaps: it delivers its energy reserves at the exact moment an imbalance occurs in order to mitigate its effects”, says Nicolas Schottey. By removing those variations that negatively impact network balance, the stationary energy storage system enhances the economic attractiveness of low-carbon energy. The available energy, 60 MWh, is equivalent to a reserve sufficient to cover the electricity usage of more than 5,000 households.
This stationary energy battery storage system takes the form of highly secured shipping containers. Inside, the electric car batteries are installed on racks, equipped with a charging control system and constantly monitored. The device uses second-life batteries, as well as new batteries, stored in this manner to be used as replacements in the future for after-sales services.
This battery network is connected to a supervisory and control system that manages its charging and discharging in relation with the grid operators. The conversion of the direct current of the battery into an alternating current for the grid is handled by adapted converters also installed in the containers. The stored energy is thereby immediately available to the grid.
These battery reservoirs will be kept in strategic locations chosen for their specific links to the electricity grid. For the moment, three sites have been selected. The first two are located in France within the Renault factories in Douai (in the North) and Cléon (in Normandy). The third is in Germany, in North Rhine-Westphalia specifically, in an old carbon-burning plant in the process of being decommissioned. It’s a sign of the times: the emblematic site of the Ruhr basin’s coal industry now finds itself on the front lines of energy transition! Other possible sites for the future are currently under review.
It is impossible to run energy transition along without bringing together all parties concerned. This conviction has driven Renault to work in collaboration with renowned institutional investors and cutting-edge startups on energy-related topics.
The project notably involves specialised systems integrators as well as The Mobility House, a technology company based in Munich, Germany, which shares the same conviction as Groupe Renault: that the electric car is an integral part of the electricity grid and is destined to contribute to the stability of the said grid.
The Mobility House will provide the operational management of the system. Besides Renault, the project has mobilised several financial supporters including the Banque des Territoires, as well as the Japanese Mitsui group, and Demeter through the Fonds de Modernisation Écologique des Transports (FMET), all specialists in projects related to energy transition.
The first facilities will be completed in the beginning of 2019. Storage capacity will thereafter be gradually expanded over time to reach 2,000 electric car batteries. At this point, the device will have reached—or more likely exceeded—the 60 MWh threshold.
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