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Friday, 22 July 2011

Used Electric Car Batteries May Get Second Life Storing Power for Grid

New York Times
July 21, 2011
After putting in eight to 10 years powering a vehicle, recommissioned batteries from General Motor Co.'s electric Volt cars could be used by utilities to provide backup electric storage for the grid, the company says.

GM and electric power company ABB Group have been working together since September of last year under a joint research and development agreement targeting the reuse of vehicle batteries for stationary power use. Alongside a conference this week in Raleigh, N.C., the groups shared their progress in moving the concept from laboratory to pilot testing.

"Volt customers are very focused on the entire life cycle of the battery," Pablo Valencia, GM's senior manager for battery life cycle management, told reporters. And with batteries needing retirement from the road when they drop to 70 percent of their useful life remaining, he said, secondary use was a major concern for GM, too.

The automaker and ABB's R&D partnership is focused on putting the used batteries to work in clusters where they can provide backup energy storage for the grid, either to hold wind or solar energy during periods of low electric demand for use later or to provide backup power in case of a grid disruption.

Valencia said a group of 50 homes could be powered through 33 used Volt batteries, with enough storage capacity to keep them all running for about four hours. In a more likely scenario based on their talks with utilities, he said, batteries would be sold or operated on behalf of utilities in configurations of five to 10 units wired together, where they would serve small groups of houses or commercial facilities with 25 to 75 kilowatt-hours of storage.

This is "an energy solution that goes beyond the road," he said. "This is in the realm of new storage solutions that are out there."
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