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Energy and sustainability: a second life for electric car batteries

20.1.2022
Energy and sustainability: a second life for electric car batteries

The decommissioned batteries used for testing and development Audi e-tron vehicles find a second life in a pilot project with energy supplier RWE. The residual capacity is more than 80%, and the costs are lower than any other expense for new cells. (and the costs are cheaper than new cells).

The all-round approach required by electric mobility is also applied to batteries and their future after the car in which they were installed ends its life cycle. The so-called 'second life' of the batteries is a priority for Audi, which has partnered with German energy provider RWE - which distributes energy to more than 120 million people in Europe and North America - to set up a stationary energy storage factory in Herdecke (Germany) using 60 lithium-ion modules removed from Audi e-trons, with a total capacity of 4.5 megawatt hours.

Batteries from test and development models

The batteries come from prototype versions of the Audi e-tron, which were used as test and development vehicles before they reach the definitive model. After their 'first life', during which they powered the Ingolstadt SUV's electric motors, the batteries retained a residual capacity of more than 80 percent, ideal for stationary energy storage. This means they can be used for another 10 years at a significantly lower cost than new cells.

At the same time, this solution makes it possible to spread the carbon footprint over two different operating phases (the first for automotive use, the second for stationary use) and over a longer - almost double - period of time, thus making the batteries more sustainable.

Carbon neutral mobility

Audi is pursuing fully sustainable mobility and the goal of becoming completely carbon neutral in all its activities. By 2025 the brand will offer more than 20 full-electric models. But our aspirations go far beyond vehicles, which is why we are advancing the development of sustainable mobility through collaborations in the energy industry” says Oliver Hoffmann, Audi AG Board Member for Technical Development.

This partnership demonstrates the possibilities that exist for the resource-friendly use of second-life high-voltage batteries and their intelligent integration into the power grid of the future. In addition, we are planning the next step of recycling the batteries to create a virtuous closed loop here as well”.

Stabilising the electricity grid

In October, at the Herdecke hydroelectric pumping plant, RWE completed the construction of a huge 160-square-metre "case" to host 60 battery modules weighing around 700 kg each.

The installation started in November, and the energy provider intends to integrate the storage facility into the distribution network, initially to increase its stability at times when energy demand peaks, and later to test innovative business strategies. “This type of storage plays an essential role in the energy revolution. Flexible storage technologies are needed to compensate for short-term fluctuations in renewable energy and to stabilize the grid" explains Roger Miesen, CEO of RWE.

Innovative technologies for energy storage

Thanks to this project with Audi, we are testing how batteries from electric cars, once connected in series, are extremely effective and efficient, offering a sustainable alternative to new batteries. The experience gained from the pilot project will help us to identify further applications for the second life of used batteries”, concludes Miesen.

After evaluating the results achieved in Herdecke, RWE will build larger storage facilities, using innovative technology that involves connecting modules in series to increase their operating voltage.

SourceAUDI AG 

VGI | Responsible OU: VP | Creation date: article date | Class 9.1

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