GM’s smart solutions

GM's smart solutions
Date:1 September 2011 Tags:,

1. A new life

What happens to an electric car’s battery system when it reaches the end of its useful life? One answer to that question has been demonstrated by GM.

In co-operation with power technology and automation specialists the ABB Group, the biggest of Detroit’s Big 3 has come up with an energy storage system that combines a proven electric vehicle battery technology and a proven grid-tied electric power inverter. The two companies are building a prototype that could lead to battery packs from the Chevrolet Volt EV (opposite) storing energy, including renewable wind and solar energy, and feeding it back to the grid.

When no longer suitable for automotive use, the Volt’s battery system will still have up to 70 per cent of life remaining. Recent research conducted by GM predicts that secondary use of 33-volt batteries will have enough storage capacity to power up to 50 homes for about four hours during a power outage.

The system could store electricity from the grid during times of low consumption to be used during periods of peak demand, saving customers and power utilities money. The battery packs could also be used as back-up power sources during outages and brownouts.

Using Volt battery cells, the ABB and GM team is building a prototype system for 25-kilowatt/50-kWh applications, about the same power consumption of five US homes or small retail and industrial facilities.

2. Real-world smart grid pilot

Using the connectivity of its OnStar wireless network, GM is hoping to help Chevy Volt Customers reduce driving costs while at the same time deriving smart grid solutions for electricity providers so they can better manage electric vehicle energy demands.

Employees of US regional power utilities will drive leased Chevrolet Volts as their everyday vehicles and participate in the pilot, providing real-time results on intelligent energy management. Essentially, the pilot programme builds on the practice – common throughout the US – of power utilities switching home air conditioning units off remotely as needed when electricity demand is high.

The OnStar Advanced Telematics Operations Management System (ATOMS) will remotely allow accurate monitoring and management of the energy used by the vehicles. They will be able to tell where and when EVs are charged and, as a result can forecast demand, decide on the optimum location for charging infrastructure, and reduce peak demand by shifting EV charging to non-peak hours.

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