Indianapolis, Indiana – U.S. lithium-ion battery producer EnerDel is partnering with the real estate arm of Japan’s ITOCHU Corporation to develop and produce advanced battery systems for a smart grid energy storage project that will link between renewable energy, high-speed charging for electric cars, and the local utility grid.

The project will be installed in a major apartment building near Tokyo. It is the second such venture between the two companies, following an earlier announcement that they will team with Mazda Motor Corporation on a similar system using vehicles converted to electric drive. The vehicles will be stationed at a convenience store.

“These are the first projects anywhere in the world to bring all the critical elements of a smart, sustainable network that connects renewable energy and transportation in the places where people live and work,” said Naoki Ota, COO of EnerDel. “It will also demonstrate that EnerDel’s lithium-ion battery systems are equally capable, whether it is in a car or a stationary grid application. Our longstanding partnership with ITOCHU has provided the means to set another exciting industry precedent.”

Sales in the five-story apartment building begin this month, with first move-ins scheduled for early 2011.

Going forward, ITOCHU said that it aims to introduce a “secondary use” system to 20 per cent of its new apartment buildings. Secondary use involves batteries that have been removed from a primary application, normally an electric vehicle, with significant storage capacity remaining. The battery’s residual life can then be sold to a secondary market application, such as community or residential grid storage. A viable battery aftermarket could lower up-front costs for automotive buyers by spreading the battery cost over its useful life. Analysts predict that, over time, this secondary market opportunity for lithium-ion batteries could be two to three times the size of the automotive market opportunity.

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