Wondering what will happen to all the used electric vehicle batteries in the future? Pioneering the way is Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corporation, which has developed and installed the world’s first large-scale power storage system utilizing used EV batteries.

The prototype system, of 600kW/400kWh capacity consists of sixteen used EV batteries, and is built on Yume-shima Island, Osaka, where it begins operating this month.

Over the next three years, the system will measure the smoothing effect of energy output fluctuation from the nearby Hikari-no-mori solar farm, and will aim to establish a large-scale power storage technology to safely and effectively utilize the huge quantities of discarded used EV batteries that will become available in the future. This project has been selected as a model project for “Verification of the battery storage control to promote renewable energy” for the fiscal year 2013 by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan.

Sumitomo Corporation, in collaboration with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., created the joint venture company, 4R Energy Corporation, in September 2010, to address the secondary use of EV lithium-ion batteries. The used EV batteries that are recycled undergo thorough inspection and maintenance at 4R, to confirm their safety and performance.

“We are pleased to be a part of such an important verification project that can both utilize used EV batteries, and provide a large-scale power storage facility, which are important issues that need to be addressed for the future of renewable energy,” commented Norihiko Nonaka, general manager of Sumitomo’s Battery Business Development Department.

Sumitomo is seeking new business opportunities that can make use of this economical storage system, as well as working on the development of new applications for used EV batteries.

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