Sumitomo Installs Large-Scale Power Storage System Using 16 Old Nissan LEAF Batteries


Sumitomo lays claim to developing and installing the world’s first large-scale power storage system.

Nissan Worker Assembles LEAF Battery in Tennessee - 16 Used Batteries Provide Energy Storage For Sumitom's Unit

Nissan Worker Assembles LEAF Battery in Tennessee – 16 Used Batteries Provide Energy Storage For Sumitomo’s Unit

The energy storage system makes use of reclaimed Nissan LEAF battery packs.  In total, 16 LEAF packs our housed in Sumitomo’s energy storage unit.

Constructed on Yume-shima Island in Osaka prefecture Japan, the system will immediately be put into operation.

As Sumitomo states:

“Sumitomo Corporation created the joint venture company, “4R Energy Corporation”, in collaboration with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in September 2010, to address the secondary use of EV lithium-ion batteries. The used EV batteries that will be recycled into this large-scale storage system have been recovered and have gone through thorough inspection and maintenance at 4R, to confirm safety and performance. This prototype system (600kW/400kWh) consists of sixteen used EV batteries.”

How will this energy storage system be utilized?  Here’s what Sumitomo says:

“Over the next three years, the system will measure the smoothing effect of energy output fluctuation from the nearby “Hikari-no-mori,” solar farm, and will aim to establish a large-scale power storage technology by safely and effectively utilizing the huge quantities of discarded used EV batteries which will become available in the future.”

Energy storage, it seems, is where used EV batteries will go in the near future to die start a new life.

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26 Comments on "Sumitomo Installs Large-Scale Power Storage System Using 16 Old Nissan LEAF Batteries"

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perhaps the most ignored aspect of EV battery development – it makes solar energy much more practical. Every homeowner could eventually have a few days usage stored on site at home in the garage.



What is “impractical” with residential solar today?
What inherent problem would adding batteries solve?

If you live in a area with frequent black-outs, I can understand the desire for a battery back-up system, which non-grid-tied solar could replenish (doesn’t come cheap, though).

As long as the grid is up however, as power is more valuable during the day, it’d be stupid to charge batteries at that time. Any excess solar would be better fed to the grid instead, which is what systems without batteries obviously already do.

Solar helps reduce electricity that needs to be supplied by the grid, cheap batteries could help smooth demand and supply, which helps make generation more efficient, further lowering fuel use.

Meh. It will help. But you still want to be connected to the grid, especially if you have an EV. It is not so easy to charge up your vehicle at a fast rate just from solar power.

There’s an article needing to write more about this. Big data, batteries, late stage battery salvage, and V2G are all about to change electric generation, forever. Removing volatility is valuable in so many sectors. Electricity is no different.

They didn’t use Volt batteries because there aren’t any worn out Volt batteries….only worn out LEAF batteries 🙂

In fact ABB has had similar systems using Volt batteries, in service for some time.

I was going to mention ABB as well. Also, there’s not Volt’s in Japan either. They usually only buy domestic brands.

It’s my understanding that the “Hikari-No-Mori” site was named in memoriam
for a hiker who was killed by a falling tree.

🙂 OK, not really, I’m messin’ with ya. Hey, it’s early here!

Fantastic to see usage of used EV batteries already!

Great story!

Question to Eric:

Any info in the original story about where those used Leaf batteries actually came from? I mean, it’s been barely 3 years with Leafs on the road. Are they accident salvage? Quality rejects? Other?

In any case, this is great news. Between retooling as part of storage, and recycling for making new batteries, it is clear that much more of the $$ and the CO2 invested in making EV battery-packs can be recuperated, compared to ICE engines and other ICE-only parts which are generally useful only for their raw metal.

There is no mention of it in today’s press release, but I happen to know that these cells came from used trade-ins in Japan.

Thanks! So did Nissan re-sell the original cars with a new battery-pack?

Dear Statik,
it occurred to me the other day that a dynamite numbers man such as yourself could get some maintenance numbers together now that we have a little EV history. For example, what ia the average maintenance dollar per Leaf per mile for cars at 75k miles or more vs a similar ICE car? Seems to me that oughta give a little charge to EV sales pitches. If you save 4 oil changes a year, mebbe $200, that’s a month’s lease. one would hope BEVs have very low maint $ per mile and that oughta be showing up. Plus the folks who keep their cars immaculate, will have a virtually “new” vintage car with a battery replacement, n’est pas?

That’s a pretty good idea. We have toyed with maintenance costs on BEVs long-term before, done some theoretical math stories. The problem we ran into for any “real world” data was the timing of the piece/sample size. There just isn’t a lot of 75k LEAFs out there.. I’ve personally logged about 65k in three years. Due to the LEAFS short time on the market – and limited range, it is darn hard to get north of 75k. On the flipside to that, any data you get is likely compromised because you have a set of variables coming into play on the car that “normal” drivers won’t experience. There has been a very high workload put on 75k LEAFS now, which may put the cost higher…or lower – as we don’t know the issues the LEAF may or may not have in year 7 – which is how old most of them will be around 75,000. Same for battery life – the cars retaining “12 bars” the longest will be those who put the most miles on early, but in a controlled environment. Personally, I can tell you have paid nothing – I’ve skipped all the recommended everything (on purpose –… Read more »

That and how do they get 400KWh from 16 new, let alone reclaimed Leaf batteries?

Nice to see they found a way to get 400kWhs from 16 24kWh batteries. They must gain capacity with age instead of the other way around!

“This prototype system (600kW/400kWh) consists of sixteen used EV batteries.”

16x 24 kWh = 384 kWh … Assuming that capacity of the used battery packs is 70%, this means a working capacity of 269 kWh. Perhaps they meant 32x used LEAF packs to creat 538 kWh of energy storage?

A more likely senecio to derive the “600kWh/400kWh” spec is 25x 24 kWh packs at 67% remaining capacity. 25x 24 kWh = 600 kWh new @ 67% = 400 kWh used.

*Is there a link to the press release? Curious as the large storage containers seem way oversized for the number of LEAF battery modules from 16 battery packs.

Note: the storage container has heating/cooling systems installed (external box and fan for heat pump / air conditioning) This will further extend the battery module life, giving 5-10 years (or more) of useful life before modules reach 50% of original new capacity.

I think something is lost in translation and they mean 16 packs per container and the system uses 2 containers.
Putting only 8 packs into one container would left very much air inside.

Its one of the LEAST cost effective ways to store power. The most efficient is stored hydo. However, it obviously generates a lot more press.

It will be interesting to see, using this system, what the ultimate life of a leaf battery is, assuming that they publish the information.

Hydro is likely cheaper, but I don’t think this is one of the most expensive ways to store energy.

A lot of the cost analysis of batteries assume newly purchased batteries, however this is using used batteries which already have much of the depreciation factored in.

Virginia Power has a pumped storage reservoir in their power system but it’s over 600 megawatts. Pumped hydro is cheaper but on a massive utility scale.

Pumped hydro is basically old tech, and has been already utilized pretty much to the max of its capacity because it was a natural consort to the nightly-energy-wasting coal-dominated grids of yesteryear. Even at that, it could only recuperate a few % of the energy burned by coal plants at night.

Building new reservoirs or dams to store pumped hydro at this point is not nearly as cost-effective, as “surfing” on already-existing capacity, whether in active EVs connected via vehicle-to-grid, or in refurbished used EV battery-packs.

With 100k grid-connected EVs in a given large metro area, each of them having say 10kWh of extra storage to play around with (charge off-peak/discharge on-peak), you can provide 1GW of power for one peak hour.

Think about it 🙂

In short, I beg to differ that hydro is more cost-effective going forward.

“Its one of the LEAST cost effective ways to store power.”

You completely missed the point. These are old batteries that have already been purchased, used, and paid for. They are now ready to be discarded or recycled so they really don’t cost much at all. (Although I hope I’m wrong, it would be nice if EV owners are paid a handsome reward when they turn in their old batteries that they can use to defray the cost of new replacement batteries.)