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Circular Economy in the Energy Sector

Mis à jour : févr. 25

Climate concerns have already been placing pressure on the traditional linear economic approach. Therefore, companies in all industries have the potential to play a huge role in the development of a circular economy approach especially in the energy sector.

Moreover, many technological developments could contribute to this transition such as low-carbon energy solutions, materials composition, and efficiency, carbon capture, etc.

However, many aspects should be considered as this economic transition will also increase the consumption of raw materials, for example in the production of solar panels and batteries that cannot be recycled easily.

In the following newsletter, we will give you a first glance at the innovations and actions taken by players in the energy sector taking into consideration the circular economy goals and strategies determined by Intelleco:

Title: Energy Vault, a Swiss company that uses construction waste such as concrete to store kinetic energy

Circular Goals & Objectives: Respect & Improve the environment (Recover waste)/ Close Technical Cycle (Use recycled materials)

Description: Energy Vault has developed a new storage system with a total storage capacity of between 10 to 35 MWh. The system consists in erect concrete blocks at the top of a crane to form a tower to store kinetic energy. The company has decided to use the waste from the construction industry, such as rubble and concrete, and then mix it with new cement. This allows them to recover waste, accomplish sustainable goals, and reduce costs.


Title: EMR (European Metal Recycling Limited) launches a three years project in the UK for the recycling of electric vehicle batteries

Circular Goals & Objectives: Increase the intensity of use (Reuse an existing component)

Description: EMR Metals Recycling has initiated the 3 years project RECOVAS that started in January 2021. This project has been deployed in partnership with some important players in the industry such as Bentley Motors, BMW, and Jaguar Land Rover, and it aims to recycle old lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles to repair, recondition and recycle. Their main goal is to create a circular supply chain to give a second life of batteries for potential new use in cars or in stationary storage to help balance the use of the electricity grid during peak use.


Title: Stena Recycling Batteryloop has partnered with Volvo to give electric bus batteries a second life

Circular Goals & Objectives: Increase the intensity of use (Reuse an existing component)

Description: Stena Recycling Batteryloop has created a partnership with Volvo Buses. When the batteries in Volvo electric buses reached the end of their life they are reused for stationary storage. The batteries no longer have the capacity to power a bus, but they can still be used as storage units for buildings, charging stations, etc. For example, this initiative has already been set up in the residential area of Fyrklövern in Gothenburg, where the old bus batteries were used to store the energy collected by the solar panels fitted to the apartment buildings' rooftops.


Title: Malaunay experiments collective self-consumption with energy storage

Circular Goals & Objectives: Increase the intensity of use (Reuse an existing component)

Description: The Normandy municipality has committed itself to numerous energy transition actions. Among them, there is the xStorage Home system that stores the electricity generated during the day to power the building when needed. It provides a 9-hour back-up capacity to light the church in case of a power outage, as well as the public restrooms in the municipal park. The product is available with three storage capacities, ranging from 4.2 to 10 kWh. It is based on the use of second-life batteries, previously used in Nissan Leaf electric vehicles.


Title: Audi wants to bring together all VW Group high voltage batteries to create a new power storage system for renewable energies

Circular Goals & Objectives: Increase the intensity of use (Reuse an existing component)

Description: Through a platform developed in-house, Audi says it will be possible in the future to bring together all VW Group high voltage batteries to create a new power storage system for renewable energies. Audi expects to use these containers in unison with fast-charging stations to operate at up to 250kW and enable drivers to pull up and charge their vehicles. Audi has set up a test site near its Ingolstadt headquarters to put a 20kW photovoltaic solar array with four traction batteries through its paces.


Title: Nissan will start using recycled batteries to power street lights

Circular Goals & Objectives: Increase the intensity of use (Reuse an existing component)/ Move toward 100 % renewable energy (Produce Renewable energy)

Description: Nissan has found a second-life utility for its Leaf batteries. They are planning to be served to power street lights, designed by the car manufacturer, and will be charged by a solar panel placed on top of the lamp. The innovation is part of a broader strategy from Nissan who wishes, as Tesla does, to reach the home and business energy storage market. The company is testing the product in Namie city of Japan. An abandoned city after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.


Title: Powervault 3 a smart energy storage system for the home

Circular Goals & Objectives: Increase the intensity of use (Reuse an existing component)

Description: Powervault designs and manufactures smart energy storage systems for the home and stores solar energy and cheap electricity from the grid to reduce household energy bills and increase energy efficiency. The product uses an integrated battery and control system to store the electricity generated from solar panels during the day and then release the stored energy in the evening. Powervault has developed this energy storage system by giving a second life to batteries that have been used in Renault and Nissan electric vehicles.


Title: IceBrick - A water-based energy storage system developed by Nostromo

Circular Goals & Objectives: Move toward 100 % renewable energy (Energy Storage)

Description: Nostromo Energy designed a water-based energy storage system that is challenging the current BTM energy storage landscape. Nostromo offers groundbreaking Ice TES (Thermal Energy Storage). Such a technology could help companies and utilities to reduce drastically their rare metal consumption. The IceBrick has a better lifespan (20 years) and 100% recyclable compared to the Li-Ion battery.


Title: Schoonschip is a sustainable and circular floating residential area located in Amsterdam

Circular Goals & Objectives: Move toward 100% renewable energy (Enhance energy efficiency)

Description: Schoonschip Amsterdam is a unique residential area: floating, sustainable, and circular. Initiated by Space&Matter in partnership with the municipality of Amsterdam. Schoonschip consists of a total of 30 water plots, with 46 unique water dwellings for more than 100 residents. One of the most innovative aspects of the project is a smart grid devised by Metabolic spinoff Spectral, which allows residents to generate clean energy by having solar panels, use heat from the water to heat homes, and store energy surplus by the use of battery storage units.


Title: Brenmiller collects and stores heat waste to use as energy

Circular Goals & Objectives: Move toward 100% renewable energy (Enhance energy efficiency, Energy Storage, Foster decentralized energy production)

Description: Vast amounts of thermal energy from various processes are currently being wasted by disposal into the environment. Therefore, the bGen™ is an innovative solution used to collect and recover heat from the flue gas output, to generate electricity and/or steam. Heat is stored and later used, at periods that maximize savings and optimize return on investment. It can be used with a variety of energy types such as wind, solar, nuclear, biomass, etc.


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