Electric vehicle maker Rivian has announced a project to use second-life batteries from its prototype vehicles in a solar microgrid initiative with the Honnold Foundation. The company’s goal is to support energy independence and adoption of renewable power generation. Rivian said the project in the town of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, will mark its first steps in its plan to utilize second-life batteries for a variety of applications.
The company is using 135 kWh battery packs from its development vehicles to support the project. Rivian said it has designed its pack, module and battery management system to 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,” said Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe. “This project allows us to model a customized energy storage solution that takes into account space constraints, disaster resiliency and energy independence.”
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. Casa Pueblo is a non-profit organization.
The Honnold Foundation was started by climber Alex Honnold, who was the focus of the recent National Geographic documentary “Free Solo.” The foundation funds solar power initiatives to help tackle global energy inequality.
The foundation and Rivian battery engineers visited Casa Pueblo earlier in 2019 to meet with community leaders and are designing a site-specific system to power many of the businesses located in the Adjuntas town square. In power loss scenarios, said Rivian, the microgrid is expected to allow Adjuntas residents access to electricity for core businesses.
Rivian has a team of more than 1000 people at development centers in Plymouth, Mich.; San Jose, Calif.; Irvine, Calif; and Surrey, England; along with a 2.6 million sq. ft. manufacturing plant in Normal, Ill. Rivian expects to launch the R1T and R1S in the U.S. in late 2020.