General Motors Announcing Entry Into Stationary Energy Storage Next Week

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Forging a different path than rival Tesla, General Motors will announce its entry into the stationary energy storage market next Tuesday.

While Tesla plans to bring energy storage to the home and office with its Powerwall system — consisting of new battery packs linked to solar power — GM will instead extend the economic life of its EV and PHEV packs once they can no longer fulfill their service in automotive applications, Reuters reports.

As early as 2012, GM had the emerging storage market in mind when it paired with Swiss engineering group Advanced Auto Batteries to develop a stationary pack composed of five used Chevrolet Volt batteries. The resulting modular unit was good for two hours of power as needed by three to five average U.S. homes.

According to battery lifecycle management chief Pablo Valencia, the automaker’s development of a given pack includes secondary uses:

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.

The market back when Valencia made those comments delivered $200 million in total profit by the end of 2012. As more competitors jump into the game, however, research firm IHS CERA says end-of-year profits could climb as high as $19 billion by 2017.

GM’s announcement will be made during the second day of AAB’s AABC conference at the Marriott inside the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

[Photo credit: Chevrolet]

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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8 of 9 comments
  • Cwallace Cwallace on Jun 11, 2015

    I wish they'd figure out a way to make the battery work as backup power while it is still in the car. Having gone 15 days without electricity after Hurricane Ike, that'd move the needle for me. Don't try to sell me an electric car, sell me a self-propelled power plant.

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    • JimC2 JimC2 on Jun 11, 2015

      @bigdaddyp That's pretty clever! Compare the cost of a box store generator to the marginal cost of repurposing your transportation as a generator (while still having full use of it as a vehicle). You'd probably want to do something to immobilize the car (like put a boot on one of the wheels). Post-hurricane looters are hit and miss, no sense making it easy for them.

  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Jun 11, 2015

    I am no expert. I don't know details here. But with powerball I haven't seen anything real convincing telling me it's any better or cheaper than a pack of lead acid batteries or a generator running on fossil fuels. The sound of this to me doesn't make it appear any better.

    • Ckb Ckb on Jun 11, 2015

      The plan isn't to make brand new batteries for home storage. There are tens (hundreds?) of thousands of battery packs currently on the road that will still have 70% of their useable lifespan left even after they can no longer perform their primary function (propulsion). Why not sell that 70% off to someone who can use it before recycling it entirely? If this catches on (and it should because it makes a ton of sense) it will significantly reduce the cost of the highest priced component in an electric car.

  • APaGttH APaGttH on Jun 11, 2015

    Nothing new here - these ideas were suggested over half-a-decade ago when the Leaf and Volt were ramping up.

  • Shaker Shaker on Jun 12, 2015

    I would think that in an emergency, a single Volt pack could keep a refrigerator, freezer and furnace motor (nat gas heat) running for at least a day (maybe 2). If your power goes out due to a natural disaster, I would think that you might skip the TV, washer/dryer, etc. to keep your food from spoiling and the heat on.