California Energy Commission awarded $2.9 million second-life EV battery grant to CleanSpark and ReJoule

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CleanSpark, Inc., a diversified software and services company, and ReJoule, a battery diagnostics and optimization company announced that they have been awarded a grant from the California Energy Commission.

The grant is approximately $2.9 million and is slated to be deployed over the next 30 months. The funds will be distributed to the multi-group partnership of clean energy and technology companies. ReJoule and CleanSpark will be further supported by Ford Motor Company, BigBattery, and GRID Alternatives. CleanSpark expects to receive approximately $470,000 of the grant funding for its microgrid design and mVSO software services and follow-on deployment of its mPulse software and controls. CleanSpark has also agreed to provide over $88,000 in matched funding.

The California Energy Commission Grant proposal was for Validating Capability of Second-life Batteries to Cost-Effectively Integrate Solar Power for Small-Medium Commercial Building Applications. The underlying goal is to deploy second life batteries from electric vehicles for use in a microgrid application. 

As electric vehicles (EV) reach their end-of-life, batteries often retain from 70-90% of their original capacity.  This presents opportunities for repurposing EV batteries as low-cost stationary storage in a second-life application.  Extending the life of used EV batteries further lessens the need for mining of rare earth minerals, thereby making batteries as an energy storage solution more sustainable. The largest barriers to repurposing used EV batteries are the cost of disassembly, long test times, and uncertainty of the remaining useful life. While there are a variety of tests and grading methods, there has been limited success to reliably and cost-effectively test and grade used batteries for second-life applications.

Ford Motor Company, Inc. will be supporting the project by donating used EV battery modules and providing the ReJoule team with technical support from Ford’s Greenfield Labs based in Palo Alto, California. Last year, Ford agreed to a framework with the California Air Resources Board to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its vehicles as part of Ford’s long-term sustainability strategy to achieve carbon neutrality globally by 2050.

ReJoule, as the primary grant recipient, will develop a battery grading process and degradation model.  They will then collaborate with the other partners to validate the feasibility of repurposing EV batteries for storage paired with solar Photovoltaic systems to provide building resiliency and load shifting services for small and medium-sized commercial buildings.

The systems covered by the grant will be deployed at two locations, Lucky Cat Labs, an artist’s studio located in Los Angeles, California, and a Housing and Training center for the Homeless, located in Santa Ana, California. They will both incorporate solar and second-generation energy storage batteries controlled by CleanSpark’s mPulse software and controls platform and ReJoule’s battery management system. 

Steven Chung and Zora Chung, Co-Founders of ReJoule stated that, this was a big step towards their goal of enabling the circular economy for EV batteries. This project would address the technical challenges associated with repurposing used EV batteries and demonstrated their technology in a commercial setting. The company was excited to work with their partners composed of companies and nonprofits dedicated to combating climate change through the deployment of clean energy solutions.

Zach Bradford CEO of CleanSpark commented that, this was an exciting opportunity for CleanSpark and they recognized the need in the market to extend the life of battery energy storage solutions. Electric Vehicle batteries were an ideal candidate to provide not only long-term value for deployment in residential and commercial applications, but repurposing used EV batteries could greatly assist in the avoidance of potentially substantial disposal and recycling costs. The company has found that cost was generally the single largest factor that was considered by an end user. The ability to effectively offer lower cost solutions using second life batteries not only increased sustainability but could potentially open up an entirely new market to those who find new energy storage systems cost prohibitive.

Will Paxton, electrification research engineer at Ford’s  Greenfield Labs said that, they were excited to work with innovative companies such as ReJoule and CleanSpark to improve the sustainability of electrified transportation and move closer to a circular economy for EV batteries.

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