Taking a glance at the number of people living on Earth right now, I can say that I’m astonished by the number. There is about 7.8 billion people alive on Earth. The state of our poor atmosphere is the result of such a number. We’re polluting it day by day and doing it heavily, without regard for it. As we all like and need to have cars, the invention of hybrids and EVs came about as an attempt to reduce the pollution. With those came the problem with batteries. What to do with them when they stop working as they should? Well, Renault came up with one way to solve it with their Advanced Battery Storage system which I honestly find genius.
Every battery you use has a certain life cycle after which it becomes waste and you replace them. But not any waste. They become electronic waste. With EV batteries, them being replaced doesn’t necessarily mean that they are destined for the bin. So far, the most common way for taking care of replaced batteries was sadly recycling. However, with the Advanced Battery Storage system, Renault doesn’t recycle them. They re-purpose them in an ingenious way that’ll help everyone.
Advanced Battery Storage To The Rescue
The basic principle behind it all is simple. The system is made up of batteries that got replaced, giving them new life. Alongside the used batteries, there are new ones intended for future use, keeping supplies in check. They’re all stored in large containers, which will eventually expand to over 2,000 batteries in total. When the intended storage capacity is reached, the renewable energy coming out of the Advanced Battery Storage system will count somewhere north of 70 MW of power, or 60 MWh if we look at the storage capacity. Sum up the energy consumption of 5,000 average households and you’ll get hereabouts of 70 MW, meaning that Renault’s system can easily provide them power instantly given the nature of the power source.
During certain times of the year, we, as the consumers of electric energy, want more of it. Naturally, that results in the demand being greater than the amount of energy offered, meaning that the whole power system has to push extra hard in order to fulfill the demand. It can be difficult to maintain proper energy levels and frequency in heavily loaded power grids, so there has to be some other solution except the extra muscle from the power system. Exactly that’s where Renault’s system kicks in.
What the Advanced Battery Storage system is doing in the whole mix is helping the power system throughout times where the production can’t keep up with the demand, serving as a helping hand to the struggling power system. “Our stationary storage solution aims to offset these differences: it delivers its reserves to a point of imbalance in the grid at a given time to reduce the effects,” said Nicolas Schottey, Director of the Groupe Renault New Business Energy program. Once the batteries are running low on power, they would be recharged from the grid they’re connected do, which could come in handy when there’s too much reactive power.
Apart from backing up the power system, the innovative system will increase the percentage of electric energy that came from renewable power sources. It’s well known that there is a common goal for EU countries to produce 30% of energy from renewable sources, so this system could greatly contribute to reaching that number.
For now, Renault plans to build three Advanced Battery System facilities in 2019. Two of them would end up in their home country, at Renaults production plants in Douai and Cléon, while the third one would replace the coal power plant in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany.
The Waste Problem Persists
Me being an electrical engineering student, I can’t help but not be intrigued by this. I know the struggles we have with maintaining proper power levels, so having 70 MW on tap means a lot. Also, I’m very aware of the amount of waste we produce and I think that more manufacturers should follow Renault’s footsteps and do something with their old batteries. But, even though this gives the batteries new life, they’ll still be destined for recycling once they’re really done, so the problem of electronic waste persists.