Gaining insight in to the New Zealand battery technology landscape

13 February 2020

Masters of Engineering Management (MEM) student, Cheng Zhang, has completed a review of battery storage technology in New Zealand.

  • Cheng Zhang 2019 GREEN Grid

    Cheng Zhang presenting at the 2019 GREEN Grid Conference

Cheng Zhang completed his MEM studies at UC in February 2020. His management project, “Feasibility Analysis of Electric Vehicle Battery Repurposing for Battery Energy Storage”, was sponsored by Christchurch based company DARC Technologies1 and conducted in association with the EPECentre. 

Cheng’s project firstly reviewed the battery technology landscape and the suitability of different technologies for various stationary energy applications. The dominance of lithium batteries in stationary storage applications was found to be due in large part to their performance flexibility, achieved through a wide variety of lithium-based chemistries. From reviewing the literature on emerging battery chemistries, it appears they pose little threat to lithium batteries for stationary storage in the foreseeable future.

Repurposing Nissan Leaf first generation batteries for stationary applications may be economic within five years or less according to a New Zealand based feasibility analysis conducted by Cheng. He identified barriers and threats to the development of a local EV battery repurposing industry, for example the lack of government regulation around stewardship of the full battery life cycle and the lack of standardisation of EV batteries.  Lithium ion battery recycling processes and technologies for material recovery were also reviewed, as these play an essential role in ensuring good product stewardship, but also to understand the recycling environment. Recycling may compete with battery repurposing applications, impacting the purchase price that EV battery repurposers will be exposed to, but also potentially providing a residual value at their end of life.

Watch Cheng’s presentation sharing his first results at the 6th GREEN Grid Conference held at UC in November 2019

Cheng holds bachelor's and master's degrees in vehicle engineering from Tongji University of Shanghai, China. Cheng worked as Quality Engineer from 2012 until 2017 at SAIC Volkswagen and was responsible for management of field quality issues due to design flaws and integrating lessons-learned into their new vehicle models. He was also involved in the investigation of potential EV battery failure modes and warranty issues through the electrification of the Volkswagen vehicle models for the Chinese market. From 2017 to 2019, Cheng worked as Market Quality Senior Manager at ENOVATE, a Shanghai-based EV manufacturer, and oversaw the failure analysis of batteries and other electrical components for the company’s first EV model.

1DARC Technologies is a Christchurch based technology company that provides intelligent lighting applications as well as exploring new energy based opportunities.