Raleigh, North Carolina – GM and power technology company ABB Group have demonstrated an energy storage system that could eventually use depleted Chevrolet Volt batteries to power homes during blackouts.

Earlier this year, GM and ABB Group signed an agreement to identify joint research and development projects that would reuse Volt battery systems, which will still have up to 70 per cent of life remaining after they are no longer suitable for automotive use. Recent research conducted by GM predicts that 33 of these Volt batteries would have enough storage capacity to power up to 50 homes for about four hours during a power outage.

The two companies demonstrated a storage system that combines the battery technology with a proven grid-tied electric power inverter, and are building a prototype that could lead to Volt battery packs storing energy, including renewable wind and solar energy, and feeding it back to the grid. The system could store electricity from the grid during times of low usage to be used during periods of peak demand, saving money for customers and utilities, and could also be used as a back-up power source during outages and brownouts.

“GM’s battery  leadership position doesn’t stop at the road,” said Micky Bly, executive director of GM’s global electrical systems, electrification and infotainment. “It extends throughout the life of the battery, including ways we can benefit society and the environment. As we grow our battery systems expertise, we need to assure we’re optimizing the development of our battery systems with secondary use in mind from the start. Partnerships with organizations such as ABB provide real-world applications that prove what we’re doing is real, not fiction.”

The companies are planning the next major step of testing a larger prototype on an actual electric distribution system.

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