Used electric car batteries could provide power to homes

US researchers are hoping to turn old electric vehicle batteries into local energy storage systems.

A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee are due to trial a new platform designed to enable used batteries that can still hold some charge to provide cost-effective backup energy to homes and businesses.

Researchers from ORNL, run by the US Department of Energy (DOE), will work with General Motors (GM) and ABB Group over the next year to study the performance of the platform, which contains five used Chevrolet Volt batteries and provides 25 kilowatts of power and 50 kilowatt-hours of energy.

‘With about one million lithium-ion batteries per year coming available from various automakers for the secondary market beginning in 2020, we see vast potential to supplement power for homes and businesses,’ said Dr Imre Gyuk, manager of the DOE’s Energy Storage Research Program.

‘Since these batteries could still have up to 80 percent of their capacity, they present a great opportunity for use in stationary storage devices before sending them to be recycled.’

GM and ABB have already demonstrated how a Chevrolet Volt battery pack can collect electrical energy and feed it back to the grid to deliver supplemental power to homes or businesses.

Researchers claimed that the system could potentially reduce energy costs and increase grid stability and reliability.

Last year in San Francisco, a GM/ABB energy storage system provided 100 percent of the electricity needed to power a temporary structure for several hours.

A similar application could one day power a group of homes or small commercial buildings during a power outage or help make up for gaps in solar, wind or other renewable power generation.

‘This project with Oak Ridge will enable us to start obtaining data to see if Volt batteries can perform by providing energy cost savings through peak load and time-of-use energy management,’ said Bill Wallace, director of GM battery systems engineering.