GM’s Chevy Volt Batteries Get a Second Life

Even before its electric car hits the road, GM has figured out an after-market use for its batteries — storage for the smart grid.


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.


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more


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