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Jon LeSage

Jon LeSage

Jon LeSage is a California-based journalist covering clean vehicles, alternative energy, and economic and regulatory trends shaping the automotive, transportation, and mobility sectors.

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This Car Maker Is About To Launch Europe’s Largest Energy Storage Project

French company Renault is harnessing its position as the leader in Europe’s electric vehicle market and following Asian and American giants into the lithium ion battery storage market.

Renault is launching the biggest energy stationary storage system from EV batteries in Europe. The company just introduced Advanced Battery Storage, a stationary storage system for energy developed exclusively from EV batteries.

In order for electric vehicles and their expensive battery packs to meet sales targets set out by governments and a few automakers such as Renault, the energy storage challenge has to be met. Will there be enough electricity to power the growing number of EVs out on roads? Renewable energy also needs to see more storage capacity available to build confidence in the technology.

Renault will develop new storage capacity of at least 60 MWh, making it the biggest system of its kind ever built in Europe and the equivalent of powering a city with 50,000 households. The first facilities will be developed early next year on three sites in France and Germany: at the Renault plants in Douai and Cléon and at a former coal-fired plant in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The French automaker sees real opportunity in combining the battery technology into vehicle sales and to meet growing market demand for energy storage products. That’s being supported and incentivized by European utilities and government agencies.

Automakers have been following electric carmaker Tesla’s leadership in converting EV battery packs into energy storage units. Tesla set the pace in 2015 by launching its Tesla Energy unit and rolling out the popular Powerwall storage product. The list has grown impressively with BMW, Daimler, Nissan, and Toyota rolling out large energy storage projects, and Hyundai and Kia recently joining the pack. Related: The Biggest Wildcard In The Iran Sanctions Saga

But Tesla and the other vehicle makers follow behind Asian electronics and automotive suppliers as market leaders. Panasonic, BYD, LG Chem, Samsung, Wanxiang, GS Yuasa, Lishen top the chart, with Tesla Energy following close behind.

Panasonic is the leading global li-ion battery manufacturer. The Japanese electronics giant is also a partner with Tesla in the Nevada Gigafactory battery plant. Panasonic also works with Volkswagen and Ford.

BYD is best known for its dominant EV sales, being global Number 1 seller in the past three years. The company is also taking a leading role in electric bus sales around the world and electric monorails. The Chinese company has tapped into its assets, expanding in recent years to its Shenzhen battery plant. Energy storage and a solar PV division are taking off for the company, with energy storage revenue expected to grow significantly.

LG Chem is tapping into a growing segment within the energy storage market — storage systems meant to stabilize renewable energy and its vulnerability to fluctuating weather conditions impacting solar panels and wind turbines. LG just launched an energy storage product designed to help stabilize the solar energy grid.

LG Electronics USA unveiled Energy Storage Systems and an expandable battery pack for American homeowners at the 2018 Solar Power International Conference in Anaheim, Calif. During the conference, LG described its new products as two advanced new energy storage systems and an expandable battery pack for American homeowners. Related: Elon Musk Settles With SEC, Quits As Tesla Chairman

One is an AC-coupled 5.0 kW system for those who already have solar panels of any type on their homes, and the other is a DC-coupled 7.6 kW system that’s part of a new installation of LG solar panels.

Renault’s announcement follows the launch of a short-term electric vehicle rental program made with furniture retailer IKEA to support the French automaker’s domination of EV sales in Europe. The company will offer EV versions of its vans, the Kangoo and Master, and its Zoe electric hatchback for short-term rental through IKEA. Renault has led EV sales in Europe through sales of the Zoe, and has been serving fleets with introduction of its two electric commercial vans.

Automakers see energy storage as worthy of having their own business units. Daimler has created Mercedes-Benz Energy, which has served clients such as Getec Energie AG and the Mobility House AG, which converted the old Mark-E coal-fired plant in Elverlingsen, Germany, into an energy storage facility. It will be using about 2,000 modules from EV battery packs made by Daimler’s Accumotive subsidiary. With the Elverlingsen project and other energy storage units in the works, it means that about 40 MWh of energy will soon be connected to the power grid.

Competitors are following Tesla’s lead, establishing separate business units and market presence in energy storage. Earlier this year, it was reported that Tesla has been deploying about 100 MWh of energy storage per quarter. The company has been very visible supporting efforts in South Australia to find much-needed and reliable backup energy. Tesla is helping South Australia build what could power up to 50,000 homes across the region over the next four years.

By Jon LeSage for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Lee James on October 01 2018 said:
    An auto maker here, and an automaker there, and battery storage starts to add up. Seems like sumthins up in the transportation world.

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