Renewable Planet Coming: Batteries Included
May 12, 2016
LONDON — Nissan announced a new home energy-storage device Monday, made out of recycled batteries sourced from its Leaf electric cars.
The product, which will be powered by 12 Nissan Leaf battery modules, connects to a residential power supply.
It charges up when either renewable energy (from, say, solar panels) is available, or when energy from the grid is cheap (typically at night). Then it releases that energy, powering the house, when energy costs are higher. It will also allow consumers to sell energy back to the grid, Nissan say.
The xStorage battery is being touted by the company as “the first… to provide a fully integrated energy storage unit for homeowners.” It will be installed by certified installers and connects to a smartphone app that will allow consumers to manually switch between energy sources.
The xStorage will be available in the UK starting in September this year for £3,200 (approximately $4,600). There are currently no plans for distribution in the U.S.
While the headline price is higher than Tesla’s Powerwall, Nissan say that it’s all inclusive, including converters and installation and so on, and works out cheaper than the Powerwall overall.
“Our system will be provided to end users completely ready to use, with all required elements including cabling and installation by a certified professional, at a starting price of 4,000 euros for 4.2 kilowatt-hours (kWh) nominal,” Eaton Electical EMEA’s Vice President of Marketing Cyrille Brisson said. (The Powerwall offers 6.4kWh of storage capacity.)
“Our policy is to avoid hidden extra costs and achieve a lower total cost of ownership than other major offers already announced.”
“The battery industry in the recent past has been focused on small batteries for consumer electronics, not on issues like integrating renewables and regulating frequency,” said Matthew Tappin, a spokesperson for Lazard and contributing author for the consultancy’s recent report, “Levelized Cost of Storage Analysis 1.0.”
“We think storage is at an inflection point,” he said, “like renewables were in 2008.”
Some storage technologies are already cost-competitive with conventional alternatives in certain applications like frequency regulation or deferring distribution investment. Others, for other applications, are close.
Engie SA bought a majority stake in a California-based battery installer Green Charge Networks LLC, the first utility to dive into energy storage.
The Courbevoie, France-based company that was formerly GDF Suez acquired 80 percent of Green Charge, it said Tuesday in a statement. It deploys batteries for commercial and industrial clients to lower their peak electricity demand, saving money. It has 48 megawatt-hours of projects across 150 sites.
“Utilities have been dipping their toes in energy storage, testing to see if the space is interesting, but this is the first time that we’re seeing one go much further with a deeper engagement,” said Logan Goldie-Scot, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Utilities are earning less from their core businesses and many are looking to diversify, with a stronger focus on clean energy and downstream services.”
Low power prices are forcing utilities to reexamine their business models and seek new ways of making money. Interest in energy storage is growing as companies and governments seek to integrate more solar and wind into the grid. Baseload power from gas and coal-fired plants is still needed to balance the grid, which batteries could perhaps replace one day for a full transition to a clean-energy system.