Melilla Second Life, recycled batteries for storage


Recycling is the core principle of the circular economy and, when it’s applied to electrical batteries, it becomes “circular energy.” This is particularly apt for the pioneering battery project, Second Life, which was created by the Enel Group for the Spanish enclave of Melilla and selected as a “member initiative” by the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the annual meeting in Davos (Switzerland), scheduled this year from 22 to 25 January.

The Second Life project, which was developed by Enel in collaboration with Nissan, uses advanced technology based on a simple idea: once their use within a Nissan LEAF electric vehicle has come to an end, these car batteries are recycled and assembled in a large stationary storage system, which accumulates energy. This is integrated with the conventional energy plant already in use in Melilla to avoid load shedding events, improve the reliability of the grid and guarantee network continuity service to the local population.

Melilla is a Spanish city with approximately 90,000 inhabitants. It is located on the North African coast and is surrounded by Moroccan territory. It is served by a local electricity network which is powered by a thermal plant and, rather like an island, is isolated from the national distribution grid. And, just like on a real island, the security of the electricity supply is reinforced by a storage system in Melilla. This is a need that Enel had previously met for the island of Ventotene (Italy), for example, with a 300 KW storage system that is integrated with the local electricity plant.

The solution created by Enel Global Thermal Generation in Melilla involves the reuse of over 90 electric car batteries, which are connected together, providing a total of available power up to 4 MW, with a maximum accumulated energy of 1.7 MWh.

The plant has obtained all the necessary authorisations and will be ready to start functioning by the end of the summer. Once in action, it will consolidate the energy security of the city, utilising the resources offered by used batteries. It’s a shining example of circular energy where technological innovation is at the service of the residents’ quality of life.

The initiative is one of a wide range of storage projects set up by the Enel Group. Other on-plant systems, which have been integrated with an electricity generating plant similar to that in Melilla, can be found in Ventanilla (Peru), which provides 14 MW, and in Litoral (Spain), which produces 20 MW. To date, our largest stand-alone storage project, a system that is isolated yet available to the grid, is the 25 MW (12.5 MWh) plant in Tynemouth (United Kingdom), which was established in 2018, while we have other projects under contract in California, which will account for a total of 88 MW.

The pioneering Melilla storage facility could represent a technologically feasible model for more plants of this type, especially given the forecast for a sharp increase in the number of electric vehicles in circulation and, consequently, the number of batteries available for recycling, over the next few years.