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U.S. firm plans to power soccer stadiums using aging Nissan Leaf batteries

Johan Cruyff Arena. Antoon Kuper/Creative Commons

We’re hearing more and more about projects that give aging electric-car batteries a second life by powering everything from homes to street lamps, but a U.S. firm is taking it to the next level by using the packs to power entire stadiums.

Power management giant Eaton is already using its xStorage system to provide electricity for the Johann Cruyff Arena — a 55,000 capacity stadium home to Netherlands soccer team Ajax — and is now in talks with six other European soccer venues with a view to expanding its system, Reuters reported this week.

As electric-car batteries age, they lose their ability to power vehicles but can still be used for up to 10 years in so-called “second-life” scenarios.

With sales of electric vehicles on the rise, looking for ways to utilize the growing number of old EV batteries is a growing business, with Eaton, for one, confident of its plan to power more stadiums.

The Ohio-based company says its xStorage solution, which uses lithium-ion packs from Nissan’s Leaf cars, can save customers power-related costs of up to 20% compared to new batteries. According to news outlet Current, the setup at the Johann Cruyff Arena is able to provide full power to the venue for an hour during a major event, or three times that if facilities such as kitchen equipment are disconnected from the system.

The arena’s xStorage system uses 250 second-life battery packs, but as there are still too few aging batteries to utilize, it also incorporates 340 first-life battery modules — all from Nissan. However, the supply situation is set to change, with data suggesting the global stockpile of EV batteries will reach around 3.4 million packs by 2025, compared to about 55,000 in 2018.

Most of the major automakers, together with firms such as Eaton that specialize in power management, are exploring the myriad of opportunities that aging EV batteries present, which in turn will provide a new revenue stream while burnishing the companies’ green credentials.

Nissan, for example, is looking into the idea of using the batteries to power street lamps, which would certainly prove their worth if a natural disaster like an earthquake knocked out the central power supply in a populated area. On a lighter note, the automaker recently showed how aging EV batteries could be used to provide a makeover for the humble ice cream truck, powering not only its motor, but also the machinery inside the truck, creating a zero-emissions business and as a consequence a much cleaner environment around the truck as staff serve customers.

Renault and BMW, among others, are also finding ways to give EV batteries a second life.

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