GM is using five used battery packs from Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars to help power the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center at the Milford Proving Ground. A new solar array and two wind turbines feed the administration building’s circuit breaker panel, where the five Volt batteries work in parallel to supply power to the building, delivering net-zero energy use on an annual basis.
The 74-kilowatt ground-mount solar array coupled with the two 2kW 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 MWh of energy annually, roughly equivalent to the energy used by 12 average households.
Even after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in a Chevrolet Volt, up to 80 percent of its storage capacity remains. This secondary use application extends its life, while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale.—Pablo Valencia, senior manager, Battery Life Cycle Management
The batteries also can provide back-up power to the building for four hours in the event of an outage. Excess energy is sent back to the grid that supplies the Milford campus.
The secondary application is being used as a living lab to understand how the battery redistributes energy at this scale. GM is working with partners to validate and test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.
The reuse of Volt batteries also helped the data center administration building attain LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.