Sunday, April 14, 2024

Reliance unveils swappable batteries for EVs that can power home appliances

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Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries has announced significant progress in developing electric vehicle (EV) battery technology aimed at accelerating India’s transition to clean energy. At a recent renewable energy exhibition, Reliance unveiled removable and swappable batteries for EVs that can also power household appliances, as reported by Reuters.

This development aligns with Reliance’s $10 billion commitment to clean energy projects and goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2035.

Swappable Batteries Offer Dual Usage: Reliance

The lithium-ion batteries displayed by Reliance at the exhibition are designed to be removable and swappable for use in EVs. However, company executives highlighted that each battery can serve a dual purpose – powering electric vehicles as well as household appliances when connected to an inverter. This unique concept provides both mobility and domestic power supply from a single battery unit.

Charging and Swapping Options

For recharging, EV owners will have the choice of swapping depleted batteries for fully charged ones at Reliance’s planned network of battery swapping stations. Alternatively, the batteries can be recharged at home using rooftop solar panels, which Reliance also intends to sell as part of its renewable energy portfolio.

Acquisitions to Bolster In-House Battery Tech

It has acquired two overseas companies specializing in EV battery technology – UK’s Faradion, known for sodium-ion batteries, and Netherlands-based Lithium Werks, which focuses on lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. These acquisitions in 2021 and 2022, valued at around $200 million, bolster in-house expertise in both lithium-ion and sodium-ion battery chemistries.

Giga Factory for Integrated Battery Ecosystem

At Reliance’s 2023 Annual General Meeting, Chairman Mukesh Ambani announced plans to build a mega giga factory for battery manufacturing and recycling by 2026. This aligns with the company securing a $2.4 billion government incentive last year to set up a 5 GWh battery production facility. The proposed giga factory will produce LFP batteries prioritizing safety and stability. Reliance also aims to commercialize sodium-ion batteries for large-scale usage. Ambani envisions this giga factory enabling a fully integrated battery ecosystem in India.

“Our concurrent priority is to set up our Battery giga factory by 2026. It will manufacture battery chemicals, cells and packs, leading all the way up to containerised energy storage solutions, and will include a Battery Recycling facility to deliver a truly integrated ecosystem,” Mukesh Ambani said at the 46th RIL AGM Meeting.

He also added “We will start with LFP chemistry which has been proven at scale for its safety, stability, and life, targeting to produce LFP based solutions at world beating lifecycle costs. Simultaneously, we are focused on fast-track commercialisation of our sodium ion battery technology. We will build on our technology leadership position by industrialising sodium ion cell production at megawatt level by 2025, and rapidly scale up to giga scale thereafter,”

Partnerships With EV Makers

While Reliance is making significant technology advancements on the battery side, the company clarified that it does not intend to manufacture EVs. Instead, it will supply batteries and collaborate with established automotive companies to power their electric vehicles. Reliance’s swappable battery concept will be pivotal in making EVs more affordable in the Indian market.

Electric vehicles are currently a small fraction of total vehicle sales in India, primarily due to their high cost and the need for imported batteries, as well as inadequate charging infrastructure.

India’s government has promoted swappable batteries and incentivized domestic battery production to catalyze EV adoption. Reliance’s swappable battery technology, integrated with renewable energy, can provide an optimal solution for India’s EV ambitions, while also meeting the country’s climate targets. With the government’s support, Reliance is strategically positioned to enable India’s transition to sustainable transportation.

Reliance Industries has made remarkable progress on developing fit-for-purpose battery solutions to accelerate India’s shift to electric mobility. The company’s swappable batteries, giga factory plans, acquisitions in battery technology, and focus on eco-friendly chemistries demonstrate its commitment to catalyzing India’s clean energy future. The government’s backing and Reliance’s scale could potentially revolutionize EV adoption in the country.

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