By on June 11, 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt battery

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]

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9 Comments on “General Motors Announcing Entry Into Stationary Energy Storage Next Week...”

  • avatar

    The plan to use used Volt batteries is a bit fishy, at this point I certainly couldn’t see there being many “bad” battery packs out and about. They probably wouldn’t want a battery pack that has been in a wreck that totaled the car, and one would hope that these cars have at least enough value to keep them out of junkyards for 15-20 years.

    Either way, I (and many) already have stationary energy storage devices, in the form of Diesel/Gas to power the generator.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan, Toyota and probably others have been working on that “V2H” (vehicle-to-home) feature for the Leaf and plug-in Prius.

    • 0 avatar

      Some one makes an inverter that sits in the back of a Prius and is hooked to the battery. The car engine will start and top off the battery as needed.

      I wouldn’t buy a Prius just to turn it into a generator, but if I had one I would probably do it. Compared to one of the cheap generators you can buy from your local big box stores, it’s quite, clean, and easy to run.

      • 0 avatar

        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.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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.

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