GM's Chevy Volt Batteries Get a Second Life

If Chevrolet's much-anticipated Volt doesn't get as many customers as anticipated, GM has a backup plan: re-use Volt batteries for electrical grid storage. GM announced this week that it is teaming up with ABB Group for a pilot project that will evaluate the effectiveness of the Volt's 16-kWh lithium-ion battery as a storage device.

If the project pans out, Volt batteries might be recylced for storage use after fulfilling their purpose in customer vehicles. So after being put through the wringer for 100,000 miles, the batteries could get a second life in renewable energy storage, grid load management or as a back-up power supply. ABB explains:

"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."

And of course, it wouldn't hurt GM to squeeze some extra cash out of the Volt batteries.

GM isn't the only car company exploring the idea of using vehicle batteries for storage. Tesla Motors recently joined up with SolarCity to test the feasibility of using Tesla lithium-ion battery packs for solar energy storage. The electric vehicle and the smart grid look set to hit the road, hand in hand.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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