The Japanese trading house Marubeni invests $10M in the second life battery specialist B2U Storage Solutions in California. The investment is the first major external funding of the startup which already operates a 2.75 MW/4 MWh system at a solar plant owned and operated by its sister company SES in Lancaster outside of Los Angeles.
Marubeni, a so called Sogo Shosha, a general trading house, has already interests in the EV battery end-of-life business, through a partnership with Retriev, which recently combined its business with Heritage Group.
Currently the strategy of B2U is to build and operate second life systems based on systems they source through multiple channels. The system in Lancaster sit on the generator side, which means that they help to make the solar power dispatchable over a longer period of time, enabling selling the energy in the evening when prices are higher. Over time B2U might license its technology to other operators or continue to build and operate systems of their own. The first systems use Nissan Leaf batteries, both as reconfigured packs based on modules and as complete packs.
Marubeni is far from the only Sogo Shosha that has interest in second life and recycling of batteries. Mitsui has invested in both Mobility House in Germany which pioneered large scale second life systems from Daimler, BMW and Nissan. The company is also providing a credit facility to the bus maker Proterra, enabling leasing and retained ownership of the bus batteries. Itoshu has invested in Pandpower which builds ESS using retired BYD batteries and Sumitomo was an early investor in UK-based Connected Energy.
Read more about the investment here.