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Deutsche Bahn and Kia give used electric car batteries a second life as stationary energy storage systems

Korean carmaker Kia and Deutsche Bahn have partnered up to increase the useable life of batteries used in electric mobility. Their solution is to re-use used lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles to create efficient and cost-effective energy storage systems for green electricity.

These second-life battery energy storage solutions are modular and can be used in a wide variety of different applications.

For example, they can save surplus electricity from photovoltaic systems or, as part of a distributed system, can supply power throughout the day to DB maintenance depots and depots where trains are prepared for operations.

That helps cut the cost of power peaks. encore, a corporate startup of DB Bahnbau Gruppe, is handling the process, from procurement of the used batteries to production.

Berthold Huber, member of the board of Deutsche Bahn for infrastructure, says: “It’s more urgent than ever for us to save power.

“Our new second-life battery energy storage systems offer a solution that is also sustainable. And that makes it an attractive option for any industry.”

encore will begin series production and distribution of several hundred battery energy storage systems in 2023. The first pilot project went into operation at the EUREF campus in Berlin in July 2022.

Additional battery energy storage systems are being installed at various DB locations, including the ICE maintenance depot in Leipzig, the digital test center in the Saxon town of Scheibenberg, and Zorneding station in Bavaria.

Essentially any company that has high power and/or energy demands and wants to focus on renewable energy, while reducing their environmental impact, can benefit from encore’s second-life battery energy storage system.

Jason Jeong, President of Kia Europe, says: “As one of the leading brands for electric mobility in Europe, Kia will expand its range of electric cars to 14 models by 2027.

“We’re also investing in sustainable solutions, including solutions for batteries once their first life in the vehicle comes to an end. This groundbreaking partnership between Kia and DB is proof that the two companies think of batteries as valuable resources in a sustainable circular economy.”

Kia dealerships send the batteries directly to encore, which inspects them and analyzes them for safety and quality. Battery modules that have enough remaining capacity will become second-life battery energy storage systems, and encore sends any that do not have enough life left to be recycled appropriately.

The batteries and new energy storage units are transported throughout Europe mainly by DB’s logistics affiliates DB Schenker and DB Cargo. There are strict legal requirements for transporting and storing battery modules, such as labeling and temperature control during transport, which makes proper transport especially complex.

Christian Moser, global solution manager for e-mobility at DB Schenker, says: “Batteries are the backbone of the global move toward electrification in the mobility sector. encore has developed an exciting solution to give old batteries a second life.

“We are delighted to support this innovative project with our services tailored specifically to battery logistics.”

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