Naturgy promotes its first project to convert vehicle batteries into energy storage systems

  • Together with CIUDEN, the Group will test the feasibility of using batteries from electric vehicles as stationary storage systems, which is an important step in the search for more sustainable energy solutions and will help to meet the electricity system’s pressing need for storage.
  • This project is a clear example of circular economy, as it takes advantage of existing resources – second-life batteries from electric vehicles – prolonging their useful life and reducing the environmental impact generated by their recycling.

Naturgy, through Naturgy Innovahub, its vehicle focused on research into technologies linked to the energy transition, and the City of Energy Foundation (CIUDEN) attached to the Institute for a Just Transition (ITJ) under the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), have signed a collaboration agreement to develop a pioneering project in the field of energy storage based on second-life batteries from electric vehicles, which represents a milestone in the search for sustainable energy solutions.

With this collaboration agreement, Naturgy and CIUDEN will test an innovative stationary storage system using batteries from electric vehicles, capable of providing support services to the electricity grid. This system is made up of as many battery modules as storage capacity is required, and it is a solution that could be used both to support the electricity grid and for industrial and residential use associated with self-consumption installations.

The storage systems generated, which are more powerful and longer-lasting than the vehicle batteries they are based on, will allow energy storage in both hybrid projects with renewable plants and stand-alone projects. Therefore, they could have a range of applications: management of renewable generation, arbitration, backup in case of failures, peak shaving, etc. The expected capacity of these systems will be around 450 kWh, through batteries that will be integrated in standardised containers designed for outdoor locations.

The two-year project, financed by Naturgy, will be developed at the CIUDEN Technology Development Centre in Cubillos del Sil (León), and will include the participation of the European start-up Octave, which will be responsible for reconditioning the batteries, as well as developing and integrating the control software for the storage system.

This project represents an important milestone for the circular economy, as it seeks more sustainable energy solutions using existing resources such as electric vehicle batteries, extending their useful life and reducing the environmental impact of their recycling.

Jesús Chapado, Director of Innovation at Naturgy, pointed out that “innovation is the key tool in the search for clean energy solutions for the future. Moreover, this project is a clear example of the company’s innovation model, designed to weave collaborative networks with the ecosystem that allow us to respond to the complexity of the environment and solve challenges in an agile and efficient way”.

Javier Quiñones, director of CIUDEN’s R&D&I area, indicated that “this public-private collaboration reinforces the Centre’s lines of innovation within the framework of the energy storage project. It also favours direct application of the results obtained in the market, which is very useful for promoting the use of renewable energies and the decarbonisation of our economy”.

Batteries in the context of electric mobility

The battery is the cornerstone of electric vehicles as they must offer very high performance to meet very demanding needs: high autonomy, low recharge time, competitive price, etc. The problem will come when, in a few years, these batteries no longer meet the standards required to provide the service for which they were initially designed. In fact, it is estimated that by the end of this decade, 13 million tonnes of batteries equipping electric vehicles will reach the end of their useful life. However, they will remain perfectly functional, maintaining high quality and safety performance, even if they are no longer suitable for their original purpose.

Commitment to innovation and sustainability

This year, Naturgy Innovahub celebrated its first anniversary with a balance of 15 industrial projects underway and the creation of two disruptive companies.

The two business creation projects are GIRA Wind and W2BM. The first of these companies, in collaboration with Ruralia, Postelectrica Fabricación and Invenergy Huso29, aims at the integral recycling of wind turbines and the recovery of materials from blades and other parts of the wind turbine for their subsequent use in a second life. The second project, promoted together with Greene, aims to develop a technology for the production of biomethane from syngas from the gasification of solid industrial waste.

Naturgy’s entrepreneurship drive through ‘Connecting Energy’ is complemented by the scouting of start-ups in the market. In this respect, the energy company has analysed more than 400 projects in the last year.

These different projects are a reality thanks to the relationships that Naturgy has established with the innovative ecosystem, including agreements with universities, work with technology centres and research groups, sector and business associations, organisations and administrations and, of course, with entrepreneurs.

In addition, Naturgy also participates in large consortiums that seek to develop future technologies and boost sectors of the industrial chain. This is the case of the NextFloat consortium, made up of major European companies and start-ups, with the aim of deploying a commercial-scale floating wind platform in the south of France.