Electric adventure vehicle maker Rivian is trying out a new use for its second-life batteries in a solar microgrid initiative with the Honnold Foundation. The goal: to support energy independence and adoption of renewable power generation. The project, in the town of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, marks Rivian’s first steps in its broad plan to utilize second-life batteries for a wide variety of applications.
The company is using 135 kWh battery packs from its development vehicles to support the project. Rivian has designed its pack, module, and battery management system to seamlessly transition from vehicle energy storage to stationary energy storage at the end of their vehicle life. The battery module’s thin design enables second-life applications that are space-efficient and customizable, important for environments with existing infrastructure.
“Second-life batteries are a big enabler to accelerating widespread adoption of renewable energy, and it’s exciting to envision this system contributing importantly to a community. This project allows us to model a customized energy storage solution that takes into account space constraints, disaster resiliency and energy independence,” said Scaringe.
Adjuntas is a city of 20,000 in midwestern Puerto Rico. It was severely impacted by Hurricane Maria in 2017, and with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of storms, Adjuntas NGO Casa Pueblo has sought to collaborate on rugged, affordable sources of community power.
The Honnold Foundation and Rivian battery engineers visited Casa Pueblo earlier in 2019 to meet with community leaders and together are designing a site-specific system that will power many of the businesses located in the Adjuntas town square. In power loss scenarios, the downtown solar microgrid will allow Adjuntas residents access to electricity for core businesses. By offsetting day-to-day electric bills, the system also brings down high commercial energy costs, which in Puerto Rico are twice the national average.
The system is expected to launch in 2020.
— Solar Builder magazine