ABB and GM: Can spent EV batteries be used for energy storage?


By: SGN Staff


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Power and technology group ABB and General Motors will work together to evaluate the potential for using spent EV lithium-ion batteries for cost-effective energy storage. The project will focus on battery packs from GM's Chevy Volt to see if they have enough life left to help improve energy efficiency systems as they make the transition to smart grids. GM says the Volt's batteries will still have substantial capacity for energy storage after their life cycle in EVs is over. "We are excited to explore the possibility of employing electric car batteries in a second use that could help build needed storage capacity and provide far-reaching economic and environmental benefits," said Bazmi Husain, chief of ABB's smart grid initiative. Energy storage is a key component in the smart grid world because it can be used to manage the intermittent power input from renewable energy technologies (wind and solar), help manage spikes in power demand, provide backup power and more.


Quick Take: There is promise here. Lithium-ion battery packs have much harder lives as power plants for EVs than they would as stationary storage systems. And there's also the possibility that a significant aftermarket for the batteries could help whittle down the batteries' high initial cost, making EVs cheaper.  Battery maker EnerDel and industrial trading company ITOCHU are working on a very similar project in Japan.


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