After the 10-year projected life of the Chevrolet Volt’s battery runs out, what will become of the car’s battery cells? Will there be lithium-ion edifices in scrap yards nation-wide? Or will they find another life off the road? Fortunately, it’s the latter, as GM informs us that only 30 percent of a Volt’s battery pack’s usability will have been sapped from life on the road. That being the case, General Motors and ABB — a global leader in power and automation technologies — have showcased a concept in battery reuse, by repackaging five used Chevrolet Volt batteries into a single modular unit capable of providing two hours of electricity needed by as many as three to five average American homes.
The prototype unit provided 25 kW of power and 50 kWh of energy to power all the support lighting and audiovisual equipment to provide uninterruptable energy off the grid. During the demonstration, the energy storage system was run in a “remote power back-up” mode, where 100 percent of the power for the facility came from Volt batteries via ABB’s Energy Storage Inverter system.
This demonstrates that such an application could one day be used to power a home, a group of homes, or even commercial buildings during the case of a power outage. Better yet, it would allow for power storage for use during peak energy demand hours, or even assist in the fluctuating hours of solar and wind power.
These functions, along with frequency regulation on electric distribution systems, could someday be used by utilities to reduce cost to customers and improve the quality of power delivery. These applications are referred to as community energy storage to distinguish them from substation-size energy storage projects.
This also marks the first time a car battery has powered a home in North America. Hooray for sustainability.