Audi gives electric car batteries a second life – –

High-voltage batteries from discarded electric cars can still be put to good use after years on the road. AUDI AG and EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG are now using it in a joint project with a stationary battery store for second-life batteries from dismantled Audi test cars. The system is designed to store electricity from renewable energies, compensate for fluctuations in the power grid and thereby contribute to security of supply. Together with Transport Minister Winfried Hermann, the two cooperation partners officially commissioned the pilot plant at the EnBW power plant site in Heilbronn at the beginning of December 2022.

“The launch of the battery storage system once again effectively demonstrates that mobility and the energy transition can only be successful together. Battery maintenance is essential for a successful power transition. The integration of batteries used in electric vehicles into the energy storage system is a very promising approach. Electricity from renewable sources can be stored temporarily and there is no need to take the systems off the grid in case of oversupply. Thus, we achieve optimal use of renewable energies and valuable resources are used for a longer time. »said Winfried Hermann, Minister of Transport of the state of Baden-Württemberg, on the occasion of the opening of the Audi and EnBW pilot plant in Heilbronn.

Use it until the end of the vehicle’s life
High-performance lithium-ion batteries are an essential element for both transportation recovery and sustainable energy supply design. Hagen Seifert, Head of Sustainability, Recycling, Fleet Evaporation/CO2 Emissions at Audi explains: “When an electric vehicle reaches the end of its useful life, its battery cells are by no means useless, in some cases they still have a high level of performance commensurate with their original performance. These can be well used in a second life for the purpose for which they were built – to store electricity. For us, the project with EnBW is a great example of how existing resources can be used optimally and sustainably. »

Cooperation in energy storage leads to a cross-industry network where automotive and other industries come together in a circular economy.

Smart battery storage systems as an aid in the energy transition
For Georg Stamatelopoulos, board member for sustainable manufacturing infrastructure at EnBW, a second-life battery storage system is another piece of the puzzle in energy transition design. “For a reliable and future-oriented energy supply, our energy system, increasingly characterized by renewable energies and electromobility, must be more flexible. It is our duty to find solutions to meet the increasing energy demand with ever higher peak loads. One of them enters service here in Heilbronn today. »

With smart battery storage systems, the energy transition can be made faster and more economically attractive. They help to use renewable energy more efficiently and balance supply and demand in the electricity grid. Stamatelopoulos notes that the memory is the product of a partnership development in which Audi and EnBW combine their know-how. Thus, the project is also a symbol of the way in which we can determine the course of the future: “The energy transition and the mobility transition require a common approach from all players to be able to shape them successfully. »

Twelve batteries with a “Plug & Play” approach
The new battery depot in Heilbronn consists of twelve high-voltage battery systems from dismantled development vehicles. When combined together, they reach a total power of one megawatt (MW) – which means that a ready-to-use storage system can cover the electricity consumption of about 3,000 households for about an hour. Its special feature is the “plug & play” approach, with which the vehicle’s batteries can be connected very easily and therefore very economically to form a storage system. The system serves as a reference for the first four projects that EnBW plans with Audi in the near future.

Compared to their first life, high-voltage batteries in their second life are used with significantly lower and more regular currents. The limits are therefore much lower than in mobile use, where a lot of energy has to cycle very quickly to accelerate the car. Those responsible for the project therefore assume that the cells will last at least five to ten years for their second life. Audi then sends the batteries to final recycling. They are broken down into individual components and raw materials, which can then be reused in new batteries.

Focus on grid stability and energy market activities
In the coming weeks, the performance of the storage system will first be tested in a pilot plant and various application scenarios will be simulated. This includes, among other things, operation to ensure regulation power, i.e. power generation when the grid frequency is too low due to insufficient power supply.

And vice versa: when wind or photovoltaic systems inject so much electricity into the grid, energy storage is a very high frequency. It also explores how storage capacity can be used in the energy market depending on the availability of cheap electricity from renewables. For utilities, industrial companies or operators of distributed generation facilities, it should also be interesting to use storage from battery modules used in the future. Because their use is both durable and economical.

Photos: Audi

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