Photo: GM

In addition to announcing plans to have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2017, General Motors has also unveiled a new modular unit that uses the power from old Chevy Volt batteries to provide an electric power source. The system which was developed with ABB is strong enough to power three-five average size homes for up to two hours.

The uninterruptable power supply and grid power balancing system uses five Chevy Volt batteries and was demonstrated during GM’s Electrification Experience. The prototype unit provided 25 kW of power and 50 kWh of energy to power all the support lighting and audiovisual equipment in an “off-grid” structure used for the event. “GM’s battery development extends throughout the entire life of the battery, including secondary use,” said Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager of battery lifecycle management. “In many cases, when an EV battery has reached the end of its life in an automotive application, only 30 percent or less of its life has been used. This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications like powering a structure before the battery is recycled.”

Photo: GM

GM sees the potential for a similar system to be able to one day be used to power a group of homes or small commercial buildings during a power outage or help make up for gaps in solar, wind or other renewable power generation.

“We showed today how fast this research concept is turning into reality,” said Allen Burchett, ABB’s senior vice president for Business Development in North America. “The ABB-GM Volt battery system is the world’s first use of car batteries as possible back-up power for homes and other commercial uses. We will be installing it on the grid soon to complete the technical evaluation, and this will tell us all what smart grid applications are possible, like back-up power, reducing energy cost, strengthening utilities’ distribution systems and storing surplus renewable energy.”

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