ABB and GM: Reusing EV batteries for energy storage works!

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By: SGN Staff

There's been a lot of talk and a lot of work on reusing spent EV batteries for energy storage applications, largely because they still have about 70% of their lives left for other uses. General Motors and ABB demonstrated that the technology can work during GM's recent Electrification Experience. They say it's a first.

 

Described as an "uninterruptible power supply and grid power balancing system," the prototype provided 25 and 50 kilowatts of electricity to power the lighting and audio-visual equipment used in the "off-grid" structure that housed the event.

 

"GM's battery development extends throughout the entire life of the battery, including secondary use. In many cases, when an EV battery has reached the end of its life in an automotive application, only 30% or less of life has been used," said Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager for battery lifecycle management. "This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications like powering a structure before the battery is recycled."

 

The modular unit of five used Chevrolet Volt batteries can provide two hours of electricity needed for three to five average American homes. ABB and GM have been working on the technology for some time. Last year they demonstrated how a Volt battery pack is capable of gathering energy and feeding it back to the grid to deliver supplemental power for homes and businesses.

 

In addition to storing power and using it during power outages or for periods of peak demand, the system also could be used for frequency regulation on power distribution systems and someday to cut costs to consumers and enhance power delivery quality.

 

"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," said Allen Burchett, ABB senior VP for Business Development in North America. "We will be installing it on the grid soon to complete the technical evaluation, and this will tell us what smart grid applications are possible, like backup power, reducing energy cost, strengthening utilities' distribution systems and storing surplus renewable energy."

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