Hello and welcome to your daily Charge Smart blog! Today, we'll be taking a look at how Mitsubishi are giving EV batteries a second life.
Continuing on with the theme of EV batteries from yesterday, let’s take a look at how Mitsubishi are reusing batteries.
Mitsubishi, their EV background consists of the infamous little i-MIEV hatchback with its odour absorbing roof-lining and the Outlander PHEV. Well, that’s about it but the Outlander has been quite successful for the Japanese brand. Good news for Mitsubishi’s next move no less.
Above: The Mitsubishi i-MIEV
Mitsubishi are undertaking some big upgrades on their Okazaki plant which coincidentally also manufactures the Outlander PHEV, we’ll tell you why this is a coincidence in a second. The big plan is for the roof of the plant to be covered in solar panels. Construction has already started on their state-of-the-art photovoltaic system which is set to generate around 3GWh of power every year! That is a lot of electricity and Mitsubishi plan to keep upgrading the power generated by their rooftop of solar panels as time goes on. The solar panels are predicted to be up and functional by the end of this year, that’s 2020 for those of you who’ve forgotten that it isn’t 2019 anymore.
That’s cool but here’s the bit that we are really interested in. Mitsubishi will be using old batteries from their Outlander PHEV cars, 1 MWhr worth of batteries in fact. The used batteries will function as an energy storage and management system for the factory. The system is meant to manage peak power loads and store excess power when not at peak. While phone batteries aren’t much use once their life has been exhausted, car batteries are a different story altogether. Because they have large capacities when new, even if they lose 50% of energy retention after 10 years, they still have a large enough capacity to power a family home. The stored energy in the batteries can also be used in the event of a power outage. The gym and sport centre of Mitsubishi’s Okazaki plant also serves as the official emergency shelter for residents of the nearby city. Meaning that power management to the emergency shelter during natural disasters is much better during natural disasters, also improving the ability of the local district council to react to these catastrophes.
Above: The Outlander PHEV is the source for these batteries
These are called second life projects where already used EV batteries are given a ‘second-life’ through use in factories or dealerships of the relevant manufacturer. Mitsubishi isn’t the only large manufacturer to repurpose old EV batteries. Volvo’s Bus division has already announced a similar project along with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Daimler who will be undertaking their project along with BAIC (a Chinese car company). In fact, Audi’s project is even larger than that of Mitsubishi. If you’re wondering why these projects weren’t started earlier. That’s because EVs and hybrids have only become mainstream in the last 10-15 years and that has meant that there are suddenly a large number of used EV batteries available for repurposing, something which wasn’t the case just a few years ago.
Construction of this new system has already begun as of October last year and the next step will be testing of the system. This is the first step for Mitsubishi Motors but following the expected success of this project, it’s rumoured that Mitsubishi’s parent organization- the Mitsubishi Corporation will also be applying this to the company’s other subsidiaries. Together, the new solar system and the battery energy management system are set to save 1,600 tonnes of CO2 per year. Not to mention the energy savings for Mitsubishi’s Okazaki plant. Great news indeed!