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Harnessing the circular economy to provide battery energy storage


Northeast based Connected Energy is celebrating after the commissioning of its largest second-life battery energy storage system to date. The system has now been handed over to London headquartered Kiwi Power, to operate and optimise in real-time.

The E-STOR system, installed at the Umicore industrial site in Belgium, uses Renault batteries which previously powered Kangoo vehicles in France. Their second life as part of a static energy storage solution is expected to give another seven years when the value of the embedded natural resources can be utilised.

Connected Energy and Groupe Renault signed a deal in 2016 to collaborate on second-life battery energy storage technology.

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“The collaboration with Connected Energy, which has been ongoing for three years is the beginning of a great story. Indeed, all customers confirm that our second-life batteries are very appropriate for these energy storage applications. It shows the relevancy of all the efforts done by Groupe Renault and its partners to transform the market for the next years.” explains Amaury Gailliez, Batteries Operation & Business Director, Groupe Renault.

The batteries in the E-STOR have a combined energy storage capacity of 720 kWh and can deliver 1.2MW in power. The Belgian system provides revenue generation and power quality management for global materials technology and recycling group Umicore who also recycle EV batteries.
Connected Energy specialises in developing award-winning energy storage solutions that use electric vehicle batteries which have ended their traditional first life.

The Umicore E-STOR system is developed to provide firm frequency response. “The world’s moving away from a centralised energy model with large carbon intense generation like coal power plants,” explained Matthew Lumsden, Connected Energy CEO. “Instead, we’re seeing a distributed renewables energy setup, with many renewable energy sites across countries as opposed to fewer, larger facilities. These renewable energy sources have their own volatilities that impact on grid frequency a problem energy storage can help solve.”

The grid needs to stay at a consistent level of 50Hz to maintain stability; if more energy is created then the demand needs to increase. Conversely if less is generated then the load on the network needs to be reduced. “Our new firm frequency response E-STOR systems work with grid operators, via third party aggregators, to balance energy usage,” said Matthew. “This provides a stable solution for grid operators and customers alike. The grid achieves greater stability, customers enjoy improved power quality, and we achieve this without any additional environmental impact from new battery production.”

The E-STOR system has been connected to energy tech firm Kiwi Power’s distributed energy platform, alongside a load bank and generator. The platform will operate and optimise the three assets in unison to maximise value. Together the assets will provide a frequency response service, also known as R1 – to Elia, the Belgium system operator, to help it balance electricity supply and demand for network stability.

With the ever-increasing penetration of renewables to meet global climate change targets Connected Energy predicts requirement for this balancing service will also increase. “Using an E-STOR this way is essentially enabling more renewables on the grid, plus our customers getting paid for helping maintain the integrity of the energy supply,” said Matthew.

Jay Zoellner, CEO at Kiwi Power added: “Kiwi Power’s technology platform simplifies distributed energy to provide our customers with more choice, control and value for their assets. As a result, more companies are participating, with more of their assets, to help make a positive impact on global sustainability. We are delighted to have partnered with Connected Energy to help deliver this innovative project which marks an important step towards a net zero carbon energy system.”

Energy storage is laying the foundation for renewable energy expansion around the world.

Jay Zoellner, CEO at Kiwi Power

The overall project has been led by French multinational electric utility company ENGIE, who recently joined with Sumitomo Corporation and Macquarie to invest £5million in Connected Energy to provide a platform to deliver its “next phase of international growth”.

“ENGIE strongly believes in the technology of battery systems,” explained Cedric Osterrieth, CEO of ENGIE Generation Europe BU. “With the energy transition, which is currently taking place, we have to think carefully about how energy can be produced in a different way and how ENGIE can accompany its customers with appropriate solutions and services.

These battery systems facilitate the journey to the energy transition, for the market and for our customers, and will enable to respond as effectively as possible to the challenges of tomorrow. Our various battery projects currently underway allow ENGIE to become a reference in energy storage experiences and solutions for our customers, partners and governments.”

“Our new battery system helps to stabilize our grid and increase utilization of our sustainable energy solutions, including wind turbines and a combined heat power plant,” said Geert Defieuw, Site Manager Umicore Olen. The system also allows us to further expand our knowledge and expertise in the field of rechargeable batteries in ‘second life’ applications. We are proud to work with Connected Energy, ENGIE & Kiwi Power on this innovative and sustainable application.”

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