The Afterlife: Repurposing Chevy Volt Batteries
Electric car battery packs are expensive and, therefore, valuable, even when they reach the end of their useful life in an automobile. And the last thing that anyone wants -- including General Motors -- is for millions of its batteries to end up in landfills.
So, while it will be at least eight years, based on GM's battery warranty for the Chevy Volt, before its battery packs might need replacement in the vehicle, the company has officially begun investigating secondary use options for those packs, which GM believes can have another ten years of useful life beyond the Volt.
In a landmark agreement, General Motors and ABB Group -- the energy and power control giant -- announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to begin collaboration on re-purposing Chevy Volt battery packs for use on the electric power grid. The accompanying MP3 audio, accessible to Premium subscribers, is of their news conference, held September 21st, officially announcing their agreement. It includes important reporter questions and answers not included in the official press release below. Also, present on the call was EPRI's Mark Duvall, who discusses the relevance of the announcement from the electric utility industry's perspective.
To listen to the MP3 recording, click on either of the two icons to the right or download the 5.83MB file to your computer for playback on your favorite MP3 device.
Chevrolet Volt Batteries Could Enable Renewable Energy Solutions
TROY, Mich. – General Motors and ABB Group will work together to develop pilot projects for re-using the batteries from the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle, examining whether the batteries may be a source for renewable energy that could improve the effectiveness of wind and solar power generation.
The opportunity is the basis of a memorandum of understanding signed between General Motors and ABB Group.
The two companies are collaborating to determine how the Volt’s 16-kWh lithium-ion batteries can be used to provide stationary electric grid storage systems once the batteries have fulfilled their usefulness in customers’ vehicles.
The ultimate goal is to provide cost-effective, innovative solutions that will improve the efficiency of the country’s electrical grid.
“The Volt’s battery will have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life,” said Micky Bly, GM Executive Director of Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries. “That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to enable the Volt batteries to provide environmental benefits that stretch far beyond the highway.”
Bly announced the partnership Tuesday at the EV Battery Tech conference here. “Our relationship with ABB will help develop solutions that optimize the full lifecycle of the Volt battery,” Bly said. The Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range will provide customers with a standard, eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on its advanced, lithium-ion battery. It is the automotive industry’s longest, most comprehensive battery warranty for an electric vehicle, and is transferable at no cost to other vehicle owners.
The Volt’s comprehensive battery warranty covers all 161 battery components, 95 percent of which are designed and engineered by GM, in addition to the thermal management system, charging system and electric drive components.
ABB is the world’s largest supplier of power grid systems and a leader in power and automation technologies. Their technologies enable utilities and industry to improve performance, while reducing their environmental impact.
“Future smart grids will incorporate a larger proportion of renewable energy sources and will need to supply a vast e-mobility infrastructure – both of which require a wide range of energy storage solutions,” said Bazmi Husain, head of ABB’s smart grids initiative. “We are excited to explore the possibility of employing electric car batteries in a second use that could help build needed storage capacity and provide far-reaching economic and environmental benefits.”
Engineers and researchers from both companies are working together to study:
Renewable Energy Storage: Power generated by wind and the sun can be stored in Volt battery systems and used when demand warrants.
Grid Load Management: Utilities will be able to use the Volt batteries to store electricity generated during off-peak periods to supplement demand during high-peak operation. This will help utilities to better manage the grid, improving reliability and efficiency.
Back-up Power Supplies for Communities: Volt battery systems can store electricity that can be used by communities during power outages caused by storms or other natural disasters.
Time of Use Management: Industrial customers can store off-peak, lower-priced electrical power in Volt batteries for use during peak demand time of day for cost savings.
“Chevrolet and GM are committed to assuring that our vehicles minimize their impact on the environment,” Bly said. “Our focus on finding additional applications for the Volt’s batteries after their vehicle use extends our commitment to unprecedented levels.”