The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded a $2.9 million grant to be distributed to a partnership of clean energy and technology companies.
The funds will go to ReJoule and CleanSpark and will be further supported by Ford Motor Company, BigBattery, and GRID Alternatives. CleanSpark expects to receive approximately $470,000 of the grant funding for its microgrid design and mVSO software services and follow-on deployment of its mPulse software and controls. CleanSpark has also agreed to provide over $88,000 in matched funding.
The California Energy Commission Grant proposal was for “Validating Capability of Second-life Batteries to Cost-Effectively Integrate Solar Power for Small-Medium Commercial Building Applications.” According to the CEC, the underlying goal is to deploy second life batteries from electric vehicles for use in a microgrid application.
As electric vehicles (EV) reach their end-of-life, batteries often retain from 70-90% of their original capacity. This presents opportunities for repurposing EV batteries as low-cost stationary storage in a second-life application. Extending the life of used EV batteries further lessens the need for mining of rare earth minerals, thereby making batteries as an energy storage solution more sustainable. The CEC says that the largest barriers to repurposing used EV batteries are the cost of disassembly, long test times, and uncertainty of the remaining useful life. While there are a variety of tests and grading methods, there has been limited success to reliably and cost-effectively test and grade used batteries for second-life applications.
Ford Motor Company, Inc. will be supporting the project by donating used EV battery modules and providing the ReJoule team with technical support from Ford’s Greenfield Labs based in Palo Alto, California. Last year, Ford agreed to a framework with the California Air Resources Board to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its vehicles as part of Ford’s long-term sustainability strategy to achieve carbon neutrality globally by 2050.
ReJoule, as the primary grant recipient, will develop a battery grading process and degradation model. They will then collaborate with the other partners to validate the feasibility of repurposing EV batteries for storage paired with solar Photovoltaic systems to provide building resiliency and load shifting services for small and medium-sized commercial buildings.
The systems covered by the grant will be deployed at two locations, Lucky Cat Labs, an artist’s studio located in Los Angeles, California, and a Housing and Training center for the Homeless, located in Santa Ana, California. They will both incorporate solar and second-generation energy storage batteries controlled by CleanSpark’s mPulse software and controls platform and ReJoule’s battery management system.
In 2019, Caban Systems, a designer and manufacturer of software-enabled energy storage systems for the telecommunications industry, received a $1.9 million grant from the CEC. The capital is being used to expand production of energy systems at the Caban System’s headquarters in Burlingame, California, to meet growing customer demand in the state.