How GM's giving old batteries a second charge

General Motors is one of the auto makers working to reuse old electric car batteries, and in its case it is doing so with Chevrolet Volt batteries with one of its IT buildings. Using a handful of old Volt batteries from the model's first generation, General Motors is powering an administration building in conjunction with wind and solar energy. This is due to the remaining capacities of the batteries after they stop being useful for the Chevy Volt electric cars.

GM detailed its efforts in a statement today, saying the Volt batteries still offer up to 80 percent of their storage capacity even if the Volts from which they came aren't able to use them any longer. To take advantage of that remaining capacity, the batteries are used with a pair of wind generators and a solar array to store energy and feed it to a GM office building.

There are a total of five Volt batteries that are set up to work in parallel to supply the power. The end result, says GM, is a net zero energy usage number. Even better, the batteries serve as a backup source of power in the event the main power supply goes down. Excess energy ends up being fed back into the local energy grid.

With its new solar array and wind turbines, GM produces 100Mwh of energy (about what a dozen homes use) in a year. The administration building and its related parking lot are entirely powered by the green methods. The company is also using the system to gather data on such uses.