Electric bus batteries to store solar energy in Swedish project

Volvo is backing a research project for what is claimed to be Europe’s first energy warehouse using electric bus batteries from its demonstration electric bus route 55 in Gothenburg, Sweden, The project involves Volvo Buses, Göteborg Energi, Riksbyggen and Johanneberg Science Park working together to examine electricity storage in apartment blocks that have their own electricity production via solar panels.

The reuse and recycling of batteries is a key issue, according to the group, as increasing numbers of cities transition to electrically powered transport. Volvo Buses is supplying its used electric bus batteries for a second life as solar energy storage units. The research is taking place in Riksbyggen’s Viva new housing cooperative in Gothenburg, an apartment complex that aims to be Sweden’s most innovative and sustainable housing project – Positive Footprint Housing.

The energy warehouse is used to cut the property’s power consumption peaks, and to store or sell surplus solar energy. It can also be used to buy and store electricity from the national grid when it is cheap and green, for later use.

“We know that electric bus batteries have good potential for other applications such as energy storage after the end of their life in public transport,” says Ylva Olofsson, project coordinator, Volvo. “What we are examining here is exactly how good that potential is. Use of the batteries in an energy warehouse gives them an extended service life which in turn means better resource utilisation and less environmental impact.

“Here at Volvo we are examining various possibilities for the reuse of bus batteries for energy storage, and Viva is one such example.”

The battery warehouse consists of 14 used lithium-ion electric bus batteries which are installed in a battery chamber and linked together to create a 200kWh storage pack.