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Rome airport with solar panels

Enel X, Partners Win EU Grant for PIONEER

Innovative project uses second life batteries from car manufacturers to store solar energy for carbon neutral Rome airport

Published on OCTOBER 21, 2021

A Winning Partnership

Enel X and Aeroporti di Roma (AdR), which runs Italy's largest airport, won a grant of €3.15 million from the European Innovation Fund for its airPort sustaInability secONd lifE battERy storage (PIONEER) project. The winning consortium also includes Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, which carries out research and development for the energy transition. PIONEER is one of 32 projects selected by the EU to bring innovative low carbon technologies to the market.

New Tech for a Zero Carbon Airport

PIONEER is a 10MWh storage system made up of second life batteries from three different car manufacturers. It will store excess power produced by a 30MW solar photovoltaic plant powering Rome's Fiumicino International Airport, which aims to become CO2 neutral by 2030. Enel X and its partners will design, construct and operate PIONEER, the first of its kind globally: there are no projects of this size that use only second-life batteries from multiple car manufacturers.

Second Life, Less Carbon

Second life batteries are ones that have reached the end of their "automotive" life but still have a residual capacity of about 70-80%. This means they can be used in stationary systems, in combination with renewable energy generation, such as wind and solar, and/or to supply services to the electricity network. Extending the life of batteries means reducing their carbon footprint and increasing the amount of renewable energy on the grid. It also makes electric vehicles cheaper, because it converts waste disposal costs into residual value.

Circular is better

Circular Economy

The Circular Economy

A new model for creating value

Along with its European partners, Enel X promotes a circular supply chain in which exhausted batteries are recycled at the end of their life. Having an intermediate step, or second life, between using them for electric mobility and recycling optimizes costs along the supply chain and makes electric cars cheaper to buy. Last but not least, it is sustainable in its three aspects: good for the environment, the business and the community.

Decarbonizing EU industry and energy

The European Union is investing €118 million in 32 projects as part of its Innovation Fund. The selected projects were evaluated by independent experts for their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional technologies, to innovate beyond the state-of-the-art, and for their potential for scalability and cost effectiveness. The aim is to decarbonize Europe's industry and energy sectors.
innovation and sustainability

Innovation and Sustainability

Leading the way to climate-proof technological transformation