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Power Hardware

Daimler Builds Massive Industrial Energy Storage Systems From Used EV Batteries (computerworld.com) 73

Lucas123 writes: German carmaker Daimler AG is building large battery storage systems for industrial use from the used lithium-ion batteries of its all-electric and hybrid vehicles. The first of Daimler's "2nd use battery storage units" will consist of 1,000 smart electric drive vehicle batteries and have a 13MWh of capacity. It is expected to be connected to the electrical grid in Lünen, Germany early next year. All of Daimler's battery storage units are currently planned to be greater than a megawatt in capacity, meaning they'll only be for commercial, not residential use, but the company said it does expect those batteries to be cost competitive with the ones Tesla announced earlier this year.
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Daimler Builds Massive Industrial Energy Storage Systems From Used EV Batteries

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  • This is great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @06:38PM (#50951485) Homepage
    This is great. People often underestimate how important energy storage is. Many of the sources of power that don't produce CO2 are intermittent. Wind and solar are the primary examples. Sometimes it is sunny but sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it is windy but it isn't. Thus for example you have headlines about how for one day or so you'll have some country or region produce more power than it needs using wind, but they miss that the vast majority of the time this extra power is wasted and the next day they need to go burn a lot of fossil fuels. The problem isn't as completely bad as one might guess since wind is generally strong at night when solar isn't an option, but the general need for cheap and efficient storage is definitely there. The best storage form in terms of being cheap and efficient is pumped hydroelectric https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] but it requires specific nice geology to work.
    • Re:This is great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @06:47PM (#50951547)
      This could also make power speculation and arbitrage possible. Buy power to charge up on windy nights and sell on hot days. (In summer, anyway) Bulk wind power in Texas on the spot market has actually dropped below zero on a few occasions. http://www.slate.com/articles/... [slate.com] This would fix that imbalance.
      • Yeah, imagine all the High Frequency Trading systems being used to make the grid more efficient. . .

        All the cool technology of HFT without the social stigma of HFT . . .
      • Re:This is great (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @07:45PM (#50951923) Homepage

        A similar idea is to use electric vehicles in people's garages to "time shift" demand. Nevada Power (and I'm sure others) offers a rate plan for EV owners where power is much cheaper after 11pm and more expensive in the afternoons. Cars can already be set to start to wait until a set time to begin charging.

        Power companies spend a lot of money building "peaker" power plants that are only needed between 4pm and 7pm. Theoretically, when a power company hits its supply limit, it could put a call out to any EV currently plugged in saying "I'll pay 6 cents per kWh for what's in your battery". If they don't get as much power as they need, they would put out another request at 7 cents. If you paid 4 cents the previous night, that's a good deal for everyone. The car would be set up with rules about what price you want and how much power you're willing to part with.

        • That would require the power companies to care. Currently they seem to be fighting distributed generation with every ounce of control they can muster. It is sad though that solar panels on your house earn less money for the power during the peak time than you pay during the off peak night for power. It is like they want to pay for everyone's power generation at the lowest rate they can get away with, and charge everyone the highest rate possible. I wonder if we could setup a solar power production union

          • That would require the power companies to care.

            I explained right up front exactly why they care.

            Power companies spend a lot of money building "peaker" power plants that are only needed between 4pm and 7pm.

        • by dj245 ( 732906 )

          A similar idea is to use electric vehicles in people's garages to "time shift" demand. Nevada Power (and I'm sure others) offers a rate plan for EV owners where power is much cheaper after 11pm and more expensive in the afternoons. Cars can already be set to start to wait until a set time to begin charging.

          Power companies spend a lot of money building "peaker" power plants that are only needed between 4pm and 7pm. Theoretically, when a power company hits its supply limit, it could put a call out to any EV currently plugged in saying "I'll pay 6 cents per kWh for what's in your battery". If they don't get as much power as they need, they would put out another request at 7 cents. If you paid 4 cents the previous night, that's a good deal for everyone. The car would be set up with rules about what price you want and how much power you're willing to part with.

          If I had an electric car, there is no way in hell that I would take that deal. Intentionally increasing the charge/discharge cycles of my $x0,000 car battery to at least double the normal usage to make a few pennies is incredibly foolish.

        • it could put a call out to any EV currently plugged in saying "I'll pay 6 cents per kWh for what's in your battery". If they don't get as much power as they need, they would put out another request at 7 cents. If you paid 4 cents the previous night, that's a good deal for everyone.

          You'd be an idiot to accept that deal!

          1) Your EV's battery doesn't charge/discharge at anywhere near 100% efficiency.
          2) Batteries have a fixed number of charge/discharge cycles, so the energy you pull out is significantly more exp

        • by rch7 ( 4086979 )

          They would need to build these "peaker" plants even if they will be used once a year only. Random supply of solar/wind doesn't help that much here.

      • Buy power to charge up on windy nights and sell on hot days. (In summer, anyway) Bulk wind power in Texas on the spot market has actually dropped below zero on a few occasions.

        Except that's not a viable business model. It costs way the hell too much money to build a huge energy-storage facility, to not maximize day-in, day-out profits. In other words, you can't leave your battery-bank half-charged every day, waiting around for the occasional free electricity to take advantage of. In fact it's most profit

    • No doubt advances in storage technology would go a long way towards making renewables feasible, however the prices need to come down for that to become a reality. Teslas power wall for example will run $3,000 - $3,500 for the battery pack alone (not including inverter & installation. It doesn't appear powerful enough to handle your average homes peak wattage draw, it maxes out at 3.3 KW. I have a small RV generator that can handle 4.5 KW peaks and cost me about $220, most whole house generators put o

      • No doubt advances in storage technology would go a long way towards making renewables feasible, however the prices need to come down for that to become a reality. .....

        I wondered what the value of this was but saw a pun in your post.
        There is data center storage and off peak electric storage and load leveling.

        Buildings full of robots, food, data, semiconductor fabrication, assembly,communication equipment all have
        large downtime risks and orderly shutdown risks.

        Since these are pulled from recycled battery packs the costs are interesting.

        These are lithium based -- I think the heavy iron based battery technology is
        the most likely urban future. Install them in underground va

    • I can see uses in whole-building UPSs. Now a power outage doesn't mean the office has to shut down for the day. The TCO might be lower than generators - more expensive to install, but costs next to nothing to maintain.

      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        ... more expensive to install, but costs next to nothing to maintain.

        Because Lithium Ion batters never wear out or need replaced? Where did all these come from? Oh yeah, they're used.
        FWIW, I don't think they're a bad idea, but I wouldn't use them as a one-or-the-other in place of a generator... at least not at this time.

    • This is true, but even without renewables energy storage is a good tool to have available to the grid. Batteries and inverters are capable of sourcing and sinking power, as well as ramping up and down fast, making them good candidates for frequency regulation [energystorage.org] and other ancillary services. For example, by spacing storage systems around, you can also help avoid congestion on large transmission lines.

    • for example you have headlines about how for one day or so you'll have some country or region produce more power than it needs using wind, but they miss that the vast majority of the time this extra power is wasted
      That is incorrect. Even countries like Denmark, Portugal and Germany that have a very high wind production rate, usually have no problems transporting the energy elsewhere.
      Yes, the news are full about the fact that germany is at the edge of its transportation capacity, however it happens rarely th

      • Agree with your last two paragraphs (and the point about how right now storage is mainly going to be used for fossil plants is certainly important) . I think however you may be underestimating how often wind power gets wasted in some areas, although it may be an issue of where exactly one is looking. For example, in the US there's a lot of wind power in Texas but it often gets wasted. And if one is a smaller, isolated grid, such as many islands, this problem is even more severe. But you are right that "vast
        • .... And if one is a smaller, isolated grid, such as many islands, this problem is even more severe. But you are right that "vast majority" was probably too strong especially in the context of Western and Central Europe which has done a good job integrating their grids.

          Interesting concept: Storage as an alternative to Transmission.

          Maybe it would not replace Generation, so much as Transmission. (Explains why the power companies are scared.)
          But transmission is still more efficient, so I see them working together. Except for the isolated places, as you mention.

          By the way, power companies have tested other means of storage (besides hydro pumping). I remember a couple of reports of large flywheels in a vacuum on magnetic bearings, which is surprisingly efficient.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @07:02PM (#50951659)

    ....but the company said it does expect those batteries to be cost competitive with the ones Tesla announced earlier this year.

    Translation: The company [Daimler AG] said that they hope to charge about as much for their old used nearing end-of-life batteries as Tesla is charging for brand new batteries and that customers will not be smart enough to understand the difference.

    • by Mr.CRC ( 2330444 )
      Or maybe that means they will be cheaper, to account for the probable higher required replacement frequency. Or maybe they will fail, and learn from it, adjust, and succeed? Ie., why be negative about something positive? What are you, a battery?
    • The part about this scheme that concerns me is that Daimler is working hard to create as much value as possible from older, deteriorating batteries, while they continue to deteriorate.

      For some reason, the idea of banking all the old deteriorating batteries together in a big mass and working hard to keep squeezing energy into and out of them seems like there might be certain hazard in it.

      Maybe I'm just not thinking things through, because I'm not involved in the project in any way, but don't those old batter

    • by SJ ( 13711 )

      Just where exactly do you think that Tesla puts all the old used batteries from its cars?

      I'm sure they have a wall somewhere that they stack them up against. A Wall of Power or such-like.

      • exactly. 3-4 years ago, Musk said that he was going to use the old cells from the cars for home/business storage. For now, these powerpacks will be using new cells, but, they will mix in old ones down the road and then the packs will be just old cells. Ppl are missing the fact that tesla has not said that these packs will consist of so many cells or that they are all new. For now, the cells will be new, but, tesla will be mixing in cells from the roadster and later MS.

        waste not want not.
    • Tesla is NOT selling you a powerpack with new cells. They are selling you a system with 7 or 10 KWH. For now, Tesla is going with new cells. BUT Down the road, the cells will be used from spent roadsters and MSs. BTW, spent means that the BATTERY typically has over 80% of storage.
      If you look at the weight of the power packs, it is obvious that there are a lot more cells than the size calls for.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      To be fair it's a totally different product. Tesla makes relatively small packs for home use. This thing is grid scale. Delivering a few kW from a battery pack is very different to delivery a few MW from a battery pack.

      It's actually relatively small by grid standards - Japanese manufacturers have been offering 50MW+ batteries for getting on a decade now, but because it recycles cells it's still pretty interesting. I guess the target market will be wind/solar farm owners looking to smooth their output or sto

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )
      Meh, if the pack has a certain nameplate capacity (kWh of storage, kW of output power), then it should not matter much if packs are new or old. The physical size will be different, since you'll need more aged batteries to match the capacity of new batteries. I'd be more interested in seeing the terms of the warranty.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @07:25PM (#50951789) Journal
    Mercedes is working hard to copy Tesla with words, but they really have nothing. For example, claiming that their batteries will be as low costs as Tesla. How are they going to do that? With small production? Nope. Zero chance.
  • From 'E-mobility thought to the end: World's largest 2nd-use battery storage unit set to connect to the grid" (Nov 03, 2015)
    http://media.daimler.com/dcmed... [daimler.com]
    "However, the battery systems are still fully operational after this point, as the low levels of power loss are only of minor importance when used in stationary storage."
    The amount of productive use before a set recharging as part of a routine understood. The count of expected recharges is understood over time. So the later commercial use is und
  • Until Daimler lobbies for legislation mandating compulsory "recycling" of automotive batteries once they degrade to 80% capacity.
  • and they'll be cost competitive with Tesla's new batteries? One would hope so.

  • I've heard that somewhere .... right, that's where I live! Even though this is not super genius I'm kind of proud finally something is happening. Guys, it's the future! Here! Well, along with mining-, wind power companies and recycling facilities (largest in Europe) we also have a dozen of coal power plants in the area. What's easy to miss is that a coal power provider (Steag) is doing the exact same thing, I think partnering with one of the Mitsubishis.
  • A simplistic dream would be a power grid:
    - that anyone can buy power from at a "retail" price
    - that anyone can sell power to at a "wholesale" price
    - where the difference is used only to maintain the grid (ie. non-profit)
    - where prices may fluctuate hourly to reflect supply/demand
    - that has no other rules, to keep it simple.

    I say a "simplistic dream" because, as I understand it, there is no simple way of actually doing that given how our power grids currently work. Plus there are the politics.

    The goals

  • If you only need a small storage system, try a UPS like we use for computers. Some good ones even allow you to connect larger batteries for longer runtime. And the converter hardware has "economy of scale" that brings the price down.

    But don't try to run your air conditioner off of it! 8-P

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