Search in news

CONNECTED ENERGY: Smart Energy Storage

Energy Storage

With ENGIE at Viva Technology 2018 will be Connected Energy, a UK-based world leader supplying stationary energy storage systems that utilise second-life battery packs from electric vehicles. We spoke to Matthew Lumsden, their CEO.

Q: Hello Matthew. Can you briefly present the company?

I was working in renewable energy consultancy, and became aware of the great number of opportunities in the field of energy storage. My business partner, Ian McDonald, joined me from Lotus, and in about 2009 we started to look into the possibilities of repurposing used batteries from electric vehicles (EVs). When these no longer meet the specific requirements for powering vehicles, 75% of their energy capacity remains and can be put to other uses before they are recycled. We launched the company in 2015, but have in fact been working with Renault for four years.

Q: And what are the particularly innovative aspects of your product? 

E-STOR is the first commercially-available energy storage system using second-life battery packs. The specially-innovative aspect of our approach is that we use the packs as if they were still in a car, rather than removing the batteries and using them alone. This allows us to provide modular, scalable, environmentally-sustainable energy storage at a reasonable price. Our unique controller can manage a vast bank of batteries, all of different origins and in different states of health. So we give the batteries a second life before recycling, further exploit the embedded energy spent in their construction - along with the 'embedded technology' from all the upstream research and development - and use them for a much longer time... during which recycling processes can be improved!

I get the impression that we set out to create a technology and a business, and created an industry. Everything we do is new, and we always end up far from our point of departure. It's fascinating.

Q: What is your story with ENGIE so far?

Actually, ENGIE contacted Renault to enquire what happened to the batteries of their electric vehicles when they were removed, and the guys at Renault said "We send them to Connected Energy." So ENGIE contacted us in view of a partnership, and became an investor at the end of 2017. We are currently working with ENGIE in the Netherlands on a system providing frequency-response services to the grid, a key energy storage function. And it's a bit of a Dream Team, to be honest: collaborative, innovative... a real pleasure to work with.

Q: What will you be presenting at Vivatech?

The actual system itself, a freight container filled with batteries, is... rather cumbersome, shall we say? So we will be displaying pictures and diagrams, along with a live, web-based display of the system in operation.

Q: Why are you participating in Vivatech with ENGIE?

In the near future, we hope to scale up on three fronts: the system (to 20 MW and above), our market, and our sources of battery packs. We hope Vivatech will help with all three. 2019 will see a major expansion process for us and we are in the process of raising additional investment to facilitate this; we hope to meet other potential investors at Vivatech.

Q: For you, the future means... ?

We ought to mention the projections for EV growth and the global market for energy storage. By 2030, it is estimated that the availability of second-life EV batteries could reach up to 340 GWh/year, and that the global market for energy storage excluding EV batteries will be around 300 GWh/year. That means that in the future, these batteries should be a big component in the energy-storage mix! We obviously intend to be a major part of this picture.

Q: And a word about innovation?

Hmmm. If you derive comfort from what you know... then that's not it! Innovation is about never being happy with anything and seeking to do things better. I would suggest: "Innovation is the child of dissatisfaction." 

Read more about Connected Energy

Source: Martyn Crossland

Sign up for the ENGIE Innovation Newsletter