01/12/2021

Cranfield University to install energy storage units using second-life EV batteries

Tags: News Article

Cranfield University will introduce three battery storage units at its Bedfordshire campus early next year, in a move that will enable the university to store and use renewable energy from a co-located solar farm.

Cranfield University will install three 300kW battery storage units, supplied by Connected Energy, at its Bedfordshire campus by March 2022.

The battery unit containers will consist of 24 second-life Renault Kangoo car batteries to operate across the Cranfield campus. The battery energy storage system (BESS) will be used to balance grid energy while also drawing renewables from Cranfield’s solar farm. The farm was installed in 2018 with the goal of generating 5% of the campus’s annual usage.

The BESS will run alongside an air source heat pump on the district heating to reduce reliance on the gas-combined heat and power system (CHP). One of the battery units will take excess solar generation at weekends to deliver back to the campus during student work hours on a Monday. The remaining units will connect directly into the site’s 40 transformers.

Cranfield University’s Energy and Environment Manager, Gareth Ellis, said: “This grant will be the start of completely reimagining how we balance our energy onsite. We will be using the batteries in a number of different ways to help us smooth out the energy interactions between the solar farm, the air source heat pump, the gas CHP, and the import of energy.”

The BESS installation has been supported by a £5m grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), managed through Salix.

The BESS system builds on Connected Energy’s existing portfolio of projects that range from 90kWh to 14.4MWh.

The company’s chief executive Matthew Lumsden said: “We have developed BESS technology that uses the EV batteries exactly as they are in the car but in a storage system, so that as far as the  batteries are concerned, they are in a car.

“This means all the safety and R&D invested in the batteries remains intact as the batteries start their second-life. It makes complete environmental, engineering, and emotional sense and we are delighted to see Cranfield lead the world in environmental best practice.”

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