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Carmakers to become utilities?

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:10 -- Xuan Zhong
Carmakers to become utilities?

Carmakers are steering down a new route that could lead them to becoming utilities.

That’s the view of Gerard Reid, founder of Alexa Capital LLP, which helps fund renewable-energy investments.

Renault-Nissan, Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, and China's BYD are involved in projects that will give used EV batteries a so-called ‘second life’ in energy storage.

At the moment the carmakers are teaming up with utilities, but Reid believes they will eventually become “utilities themselves”. He says: “I think the amount of batteries coming back will be so big that I think they'll end up engaging directly with the end customer themselves. And they've got the brand name to do that."

He cited the collaboration between BMW and Vattenfall as an example. The German carmaker will deliver up to 1,000 lithium-ion batteries to the Swedish utility for storage projects this year.

Meanwhile, Renault-Nissan is said to be drawing up plans to build a 100MW power storage plant in Europe, with Germany and The Netherlands among the possible locations. Still at the study phase, the plant 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, according to Reuters.

Renault-Nissan is working on this and other projects with German energy storage specialist The Mobility House.

The Mobility House recently partnered with Daimler on building a 13MWh battery storage facility in Lünen, Germany. Said to be the world’s largest second-use battery storage facility, it has 1,000 battery systems previously used in EVs.