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Nissan, ABB reach agreement to test used EV batteries for energy storage

Nissan North America and ABB, the world’s biggest maker of power-transmission equipment, have announced an agreement to test used lithium-ion electric-vehicle batteries – such as those in the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle – for possible energy storage uses for utility companies and community power sources.

The partnership, which also includes Sumitomo Corp. of America and 4R Energy Corporation, looks to develop a 50-kWh battery-storage prototype that would be able to power 15 homes for two hours. Nissan and ABB, whose executives spoke about the partnership in a press conference Wednesday, said it was too early to disclose specific commercial applications for used EV batteries, which on average will still retain as much as 70 percent of their energy-storage capacity after 10 years of use in an EV.

“We are working as this as a first step,” said Nissan North America’s Ken Srebnik on the conference call. “We definitely do see pilot projects with utilities within the next two years.”

Proponents of electric vehicles are keeping an eye on the secondary-battery market because much of an EV’s cost and residual value is tied to how much the battery costs to produce and how much it can be sold for when it can no longer be used in the car. Frost & Sullivan said in late 2010 that, by 2022, about $2 billion worth of lithium-ion batteries from EVs will be processed. Such batteries may eventually be used to prevent or limit blackouts by providing temporary power during peak demand periods on the grid.
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