At the recent Electrification Experience symposium in California, GM and ABB demonstrated a “community energy storage system” made from five used Chevy Volt batteries. The unit is designed to provide 25 kW of power for two hours, enough to power 3 to 5 average American homes (a few dozen of these babies would come in mighty handy for our friends in New York and New Jersey right about now).
“GM’s battery development extends throughout the entire life of the battery, including secondary use,” said GM’s Pablo Valencia. “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, as we demonstrated today, before we need to initiate recycling.”
The prototype unit powered all the lighting and audiovisual equipment in an “off-grid” structure used for the event. As well as providing backup power during an outage, such a system can also be used to store power during inexpensive periods for use during expensive peak demand, or to 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 ABB VP Allen Burchett. “The ABB-GM Volt battery system is the world’s first use of car batteries as possible backup 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 backup power, reducing energy cost, strengthening utilities’ distribution systems and storing surplus renewable energy.”