One of the biggest concerns many automotive manufacturers has with electric vehicles, and hybrids is what to do with the batteries once they are no longer appropriate for automotive use. General Motors has been conducting an investigation into what to do with the batteries from its Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle once those batteries are removed from the vehicles. GM announced a partnership with ABB today to reuse those Volt batteries.
ABB and GM will repackage five used Volt batteries into a modular unit capable of providing two hours of electricity to 3 to 5 average American homes in the event of a power outage. The uninterruptible power supply and power balancing system was demonstrated during GM's Electrification Experience recently. The prototype unit provides 20 kW of power and 50 kWh of energy to power off support lighting and audiovisual equipment used for the event.
During the GM event, the energy storage system was run in its remote power backup mode providing 100% of the power for the facility. The power from the battery packs was ran through the ABB Energy Storage Inverter system. GM and ABB say that similar application could be used to power a group of homes or small commercial buildings during a power outage.
The system is designed to allow for the storage of power during inexpensive periods for use during more expensive times of peak demand. Battery packs can also be used to make up for gaps in production from solar, wind, or other renewable power generation systems. There is no indication of exactly how much this uninterruptible power supply using five batteries would cost or when it would be available at this time.