Vector and Relectrify use second-life batteries for distribution grid storage

Vector, New Zealand’s leading distributor of electricity and gas, is exploring the possibility of turning end-of-life Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries into affordable power storage for homes and businesses. 

In collaboration with Relectrify, an Australian battery control technology growth firm, the trial is testing the capability of EV batteries to be converted into electricity storage batteries.

End-of-life battery packs from New Zealand’s most common EV, the Nissan Leaf, were retrofitted with a battery management system developed by Relectrify, and connected to the grid via a standard hybrid inverter.

At the end of their life, when batteries can no longer provide the driving range and acceleration required to power EVs, they still hold up to 80 percent of their storage capability. During the trial, Nissan Leaf battery packs were repurposed to supply est. 15kWh of usable energy at power levels up to 10kW – or enough electricity to power a standard New Zealand solar home for 1-2 nights.

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Cristiano Marantes, Head of Engineering at Vector, says the trial’s results open up significant possibilities.

“As electric vehicles become more and more popular in New Zealand, they bring with them an increasing supply of lithium-ion batteries. Once these batteries reach the end-of-life, they provide no further use in a car.

We have successfully proven that with Relectrify control technology, these batteries can be kept out of landfill and hold significant value for further use. This is fantastic from both a business opportunity and sustainability point of view.

The results open up an opportunity to build affordable power storage for our distribution network here in Auckland to help solidify its resiliency. While this requires some further development towards scaling, the possibility of what we could achieve is really exciting.”

Relectrify’s co-founder and CEO, Valentin Muenzel, says the company is seeing significant interest in its control technology across geographies and applications. 

“Vector brings extensive insight into distribution requirements and storage opportunities, alongside an interest in solutions that solve the key problems of tomorrow. Relectrify is positioned to enable collaborators such as Vector to build uniquely affordable and capable battery storage products, including for households, businesses, and the power grid.”

Relectrify’s work on this innovative project has received support by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science under the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. 

About Vector

Vector is New Zealand’s leading multi-network infrastructure company which delivers energy and communication services to more than one million homes and businesses across the country. Vector is leading the country in creating a new energy future for customers and continues to grow and invest in the growth of Auckland and in a wide range of activities and locations. Vector is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange with ticker symbol VCT.

About Relectrify

Relectrify is a developer of advanced battery control solutions. Based in Melbourne, Australia and working with collaborators around the world, Relectrify’s technologies demonstrably increase the lifetime and decrease the cost of battery storage systems in homes, industry, the power grid, and beyond.

4R Energy and Relectrify collaborate in second-life battery storage products

4R Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of Nissan Motor and Sumitomo and leader in second-life batteries, and Relectrify, a battery control technology specialist, announced today the commencement of a collaboration to develop second-life battery storage solutions. The products in development include repurposed used batteries from the Nissan Leaf, one of the world’s best-selling electric vehicles, using Relectrify’s battery and inverter control technology, to allow 4R Energy to address significant opportunities in the storage market.

4R Energy President Eiji Makino and Relectrify Co-Founder Valentin Muenzel at Relectrify battery labs in Melbourne, Australia.

4R Energy President Eiji Makino and Relectrify Co-Founder Valentin Muenzel at Relectrify battery labs in Melbourne, Australia.

“We are actively seeking to build affordable, fully-integrated battery systems”, said Eiji Makino, President of 4R Energy. “Used electric vehicle batteries offer a significant opportunity to create compelling energy storage systems in Japan and beyond. Relectrify’s technology holds the key to achieving capable, long-lived storage in a cost-effective manner.”

4R Energy brings a strong track record as a provider of residential storage systems based on new batteries to customers in Japan. The company has also demonstrated repurposing used electric vehicle batteries at industrial scale. Earlier this year, 4R Energy opened a facility in Namie, Japan to repurpose used electric vehicle batteries for a second life both in and out of the vehicle.

“Relectrify’s goal is making energy storage affordable”, said Valentin Muenzel, Co-Founder and CEO of Relectrify. “We are excited to work with 4R Energy to leverage our advanced control technology to deliver compelling battery storage products to its customers.”

About 4R Energy Corporation 

4R Energy Corporation is a global leader in addressing opportunities regarding second-life batteries. Founded in 2010, as a joint venture of Nissan Motor Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation, 4R Energy aims to reuse, resell, refabricate and recycle lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles. The company is based in Yokohama City, Japan and operates as a subsidiary of Nissan.

About Relectrify 

Relectrify is a developer of advanced battery control solutions. Founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2015, Relectrify’s technologies demonstrably increase the lifetime and decrease the cost of battery storage systems in homes, industry, the power grid, and beyond.

Relectrify joins global power utility program Free Electrons

In recent months, the Relectrify team has made pronounced progress in scaling its battery life-extending battery management and control technology into commercial, industrial, and grid-level storage.

As such, Relectrify is all the more pleased to have been chosen by global power utility program Free Electrons as one of its 15 international growth companies, working with leading utilities towards joint storage deployments. 

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Utility discussions at Europe Bootcamp

Utility discussions at Europe Bootcamp

Our Co-Founder Daniel in celebratory spirit

Our Co-Founder Daniel in celebratory spirit

Free Electrons is a global alliance of energy utilities, including:
- American Electric Power, US
- AusNet Services, Australia
- Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Dubai
- Electricity Supply Board (ESB), Ireland
- Energias de Portugal (EDP), Portugal
- innogy New Ventures LLC, Germany
- Origin Energy, Australia
- SP Group, Singapore
- Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), Japan

As one of 15 companies chosen from over 500 applicants, Relectrify will work with the utilities on joint commercial propositions, including multi-day modules in Melbourne/Sydney (Australia), the San Francisco Bay Area (US), and Berlin (Germany). This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for Relectrify to accelerate the adoption of its life-extending battery management technology, including for second-life batteries.

Tony Lucas, Origin’s Executive General Manager for New Energy, said, "Relectrify is a company that has recognised an emerging market in repurposing car batteries and we’re excited to work with them see where they can take it and hopefully help them develop it commercially. It’s great to see an Australian start-up selected out of 500 applications globally as part of the Free Electrons top 15 to be able to take their idea to the next stage."

Relectrify's selection to Free Electrons was covered by a number of news outlets including The Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald as well as in a press release by Australian utility Origin.

VW Group selects Relectrify as a global startup collaborator

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With a target of 2-3 million electric cars sold annually by 2025, and a recently announced plan to offer electric versions of all 300 vehicle models by 2030, the Volkswagen Group - which includes brands VW, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, and joint ventures with SAIC, JAC, among others - is swiftly becoming one of the key movers in future electric mobility.

It is therefore all the more exciting that VW Group has selected Relectrify as one of five global deep-technology startups to join the group's Munich-based VW Data:Lab for its Startup Collaboration Program. Under the program, Volkswagen provides €30,000 funding to accelerate collaborations between Relectrify and VW group companies on topics relating to advanced battery management systems and battery data analytics. Relectrify Co-Founder Valentin Muenzel will lead Relectrify involvement on-ground and is based in Europe from October until January.

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VW Startup Collaboration Space's project manager Dr. Zach Izham stated that "Bringing Relectrify into the VW Startup Collaboration was a 'no-brainer'."

"With the number of electric cars that will be produced," he says, "there simply needs to be a strategy for what happens with batteries subsequently. Relectrify provides a viable solution for battery second life." 

Relectrify Co-Founder Valentin Muenzel and VW's André Radon discussing the joint collaboration with VW Group CIO Martin Hofmann. 

Relectrify closes $1.5m Pre-A Raising including from CEFC

Relectrify is pleased to announce it has closed its $1.5 million pre-Series A equity raising from the Australian Government's Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF) and individual investors John Clifford and Peter Los.

This investment raising enables Relectrify to expand production and commercial trials of its control technology for second-life batteries, with the aim of becoming a global leader. CEFC investment development director, Blair Pritchard will join Relectrify's board as an observer.

The Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF) is a $200 million fund for innovative clean energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and businesses. The fund is an initiative of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) in conjunction with Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). It draws on the expertise of both agencies.

John Clifford is a veteran energy and utility technology investor and chairman of numerous companies in the energy technology sector. John joined Relectrify during the company's seed investment round as non-executive director and investor, and has since become the company's chairman.

Peter Los is an experienced investor across the energy and resources sector. Peter is the Founder, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager of investment firm Eye Management, which manages funds with investment focus including on energy technologies and their supply chains.

Australia's Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the investment would help Relectrify increase the longevity of second-life batteries, leading to lower battery costs in the future.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Relectrify’s technology to recycle batteries would reduce waste and make home storage more affordable.

“Relectrify is led by bright and passionate Melbourne-based founders who are looking to bring an innovative idea to renewable energy storage solutions that can significantly lower the cost of energy storage in a sustainable way.

“We’re excited to see how the technology develops and is adopted not only by Australian consumers, but consumers around the world,” he said.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said potential applications for Relectrify’s forward-thinking technology can be adopted across the whole economy to have a significant impact on the way Australians use energy.

“Although home batteries are only a tiny part of our energy storage today, industry experts are saying they could be capable of storing around 15 gigawatt hours by 2035. That’s enough stored electricity to power South Australia’s current summer peak demand for five hours,” Mr Learmonth said.

“And while electric vehicles currently make up only around 0.2 per cent of vehicle sales in Australia, by 2035 they are expected to represent just over one quarter. That translates to an increasing supply of lithium ion batteries that are no longer useful in cars, but are still incredibly capable for other applications.

“It’s important to rapidly develop technologies like Relectrify’s, to ensure we are well placed to take advantage of high performance, reliable and cost-effective energy storage solutions that assist in the transition of the energy system, as well as reduce the environmental impact of used equipment through repurposing it.”

Relectrify Co-founder and CEO Valentin Muenzel said recycled batteries could be repurposed widely, including for 12V batteries, household solar battery systems and grid-scale storage.

“Batteries are becoming a fundamental building block of the new energy industry and seeing significant uptake across households, businesses and the power grid. And this is just the beginning. There is an immense need for affordable and capable storage across almost all parts of our lives now and in the future.

“When electric vehicles can no longer provide the driving range and acceleration required, most batteries can still be charged and discharged a further 2000 times. The trouble was large battery packs contain hundreds of individual cells, and if one isn’t working, the whole system stops functioning.

“To fix this problem, Relectrify assembled a world-class team of engineers to develop our own technology that reduces the cost of repurposing the batteries, boosts their performance and increases their longevity,” he said.

This investment announcement was covered in the Herald Sun, CleanTechnica, Recycling International, and RenewEconomy, amongst a number of other media outlets.