Second-life battery solution for circular EV charging

BLESS™ (BatteryLoop Energy Storage System) installed at Essity, in Sweden

This month has seen the first installation in Sweden of an innovative circular solution for electric-vehicle (EV) charging, which reuses the same batteries as were employed previously to power cars. This second-life energy storage is fed by solar panels and provides 78 charging stations for electric and hybrid cars, plus 24 for electric bicycles, with climate-neutral electricity.

The solution at leading hygiene and health company Essity has been developed through a collaboration with Volvo Cars, Stena Fastigheter and BatteryLoop, a company within Stena Recycling that is a leader in the reuse and recycling of batteries, primarily from the automotive industry.

The result is an win-win for sustainability, says Rasmus Bergström, MD of BatteryLoop:

“This is a very exciting collaboration where we together close the circle and create a sustainable cycle around cars powered by batteries. We give the batteries a second life in our smart energy storage system BLESS™ (BatteryLoop Energy Storage System) and the commercial life of batteries is ensured, while the burden on the environment is reduced. With BLESS, we contribute to achieving the goal of zero emissions and to secure the future for the environment and the next generation.”

The installation helps tackle battery waste and offers multiple benefits on top, specified as follows:

  • The base of BatteryLoops’ BLESS ™ at Essity are five Volvo XC40 Recharge batteries, that provide 78 charging points for electric and hybrid cars, and 24 for electric bicycles, with electricity;
  • BLESS is connected to 446 solar panels that cover an area of 833sq m on Essity’s roof, generating about 150 MWh per year — which corresponds to the annual consumption of household electricity for about 50 apartments — and providing an estimated reduction in carbon dioxide amounting to 69 tons over the same period.
Inauguration group picture in front of charging car: Susanne Hägglund, Responsible Global aftermarket Volvo Cars; Axel Thegerström Edh, Sustainability Director Essity; Rasmus Bergström, Managing Director BatteryLoop; and Agneta Kores, Managing Director Stena Fastigheter Göteborg
Susanne Hägglund, Responsible Global aftermarket Volvo Cars; Axel Thegerström Edh, Sustainability Director Essity; Rasmus Bergström, Managing Director BatteryLoop; Agneta Kores, Managing Director Stena Fastigheter Göteborg © Emmy Jonsson

When an electric vehicle, after many years in traffic, is at the end of its life cycle, the battery still has a large part of its capacity left, sufficient for use in the energy storage systems built by BatteryLoop. So instead of sending the batteries for recycling, they get a second life.

The solution is therefore attractive to automakers, explains Susanne Hägglund, who is responsible for the global aftermarket business at Volvo Cars:

”Volvo Cars has great ambitions regarding circular economy and we put a lot of effort into finding new business models that make it possible to maximise the use of batteries throughout their lifecycles. This project is in line with those ambitions and will teach us more about the lifespan of batteries and how they can be used outside of our cars.”

Climate solutions matter for corporate clients, too, adds Sustainability Director at Essity, Axel Thegerström Edh:

“In Essity’s climate work, more sustainable energy solutions are in focus, for example with renewable energy. It is a crucial factor in our work to achieve our scientifically based climate targets. In this case, it is about providing sustainable solutions for our employees, where the possibility of charging at the workplace can be crucial for a more sustainable transport solution. Essity has also taken the step to restructure the company car fleet, where in practice only rechargeable vehicles are allowed.”

When Stena Fastigheter, which owns and manages Essity’s property in Mölndal, was asked by Essity about a large number of charging stations for electric cars, the company wanted to find a sustainable solution. Stena Fastigheter has previously built a small facility in Gothenburg, Sweden together with Volvo Buses and BatteryLoop. With the investment at Essity, this can now be tested on a larger scale. Stena Fastigheter sees the collaboration as an important step along the way in offering their tenants a solution for a sustainable and environmentally friendly electricity supply.

The grid gets the benefit too, concludes Agneta Kores, MD of Stena Fastigheter Göteborg:

”Because we can offer our customers the ability to charge their cars with solar energy, regardless of weather, around the clock, we contribute to even more sustainable travel for employees. With battery storage on this scale, we can contribute to improved power regulation and energy storage in the building, which constitutes a stabilising function for an evolving electricity network.”

BatteryLoop forecasts strong rising demand for solutions such as the one currently in place at Essity — partly due to the growth in electric vehicles meaning an increased need to handle the batteries in a sustainable and commercial way.

There is also a strong demand in the market to be able to supplement electricity supply with renewable power, for such as properties and charging stations, plus to be able to meet peaks in energy demand. In addition, many see an advantage in surpluses from energy storage being sold and delivered to the electricity grid so as to generate revenue.

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