Thursday, June 18, 2015
The New GM, Recycling Volt Batteries, and Energy Initiatives
From the Detroit Free Press:
General Motors is betting that using electric vehicle batteries for generating and storing electricity after the car is scrapped will save money for the company and others.
It could also bolster the case that vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, and the upcoming all-electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt, are about more than garnering credits toward meeting the government's fuel-economy standards.
Tuesday, at its Renaissance Center headquarters, GM executives showed how five Volt battery packs are already helping light offices at the company's Milford data center.
Because the Volt typically draws its power from a band of energy in a battery pack, there is a lot of leftover electricity.
A new solar array and two wind turbines feed the Milford data center's circuit breaker panel, where the Volt batteries work in parallel to supply power to the building.
"Even after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in a Chevrolet Volt, up to 80% of its storage capacity remains," said Pablo Valencia, senior manager of GM's battery life cycle management. "This secondary use application extends its life, while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale."
The batteries also can provide back-up power to the building for four hours in the event of an outage and stores it when it's unneeded. Excess energy is sent back to the grid that supplies the Milford campus.
The 74-kilowatt ground-mount solar array coupled with the two wind turbines generate enough power to provide all of the energy needs for the office building and lighting for the adjacent parking lot. Together, these renewable sources generate approximately 100 megawatt-hours of energy annually, roughly equivalent to the energy used by 12 average households.
The company's first application of re-used Volt batteries is happening at the new Milford data center partly because of its size. It's small enough for this renewable energy to provide adequate backup power and save money.
By using the combination of wind, solar and battery power, the Milford center earned coveted certification for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council.
GM is working on other projects using the same technology. One challenge is the limited number of first-generation Volts that are no longer driven.
The five batteries used in the Milford project came from early development models of the first generation Volt.
"The supply today is very small," Valencia said. "The importance of this announcement is that we are preparing for the future. This is a preparation for that time. Typically the lifecycle of a vehicle is 10 to 12 years."
GM s working with unidentified partners to validate and test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.
Production will begin soon on the redesigned 2016 Volt with an improved battery pack which can power the car for up to 50 miles before a gas-fueled engine kinks in.
In April Tesla unveiled a product it is calling the Powerwall that stores electricity for home use, to be used during peak consumption times when utilities charge the most.The device comes in multiple glossy colors including white, charcoal, red, and blue. There are two options -- a 7 kilowatt-hour package using nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries and a 10 kilowatt-hour unit with a nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery.
Chevrolet will price the 2016 Volt at $33,995, which can be reduced by a $7,500 tax credit.
The original Volt went on sale in 2010 and received positive technical reviews, but its sales have been disappointing.
Contact Greg Gardner: (313) 222-8762 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregGardner12