GM moves into energy storage to compete with Tesla


From pv magazine USA

General Motors isn’t just focused on car manufacturing, as the company has announced that its new GM Energy unit will offer energy storage and management services to the residential and commercial markets.

GM Energy plans to bundle the existing Ultium Charge 360 public charging service with two new units, Ultium Home and Ultium Commercial, which will offer stationary storage batteries, as well as solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells. GM Energy reports that several large-scale companies across the United States have already agreed to work with GM Energy to provide energy solutions to customers and receive product or service offerings.

“The reliability of the US electrical power grid has never been more important,” said Travis Hester, vice president of GM EV growth operations. “GM Energy has the opportunity to help deliver sustainable energy products and services that can help mitigate the effect of power outages and provide customers with resilient and cost-effective energy management.”

GM Energy has announced an agreement with SunPower to provide solar panels to its customers, thus becoming a one-stop green energy shop. SunPower will be a preferred installer for the home energy system and offer customers the opportunity to add solar to their home. The Ultium Home service will offer stationary wall boxes, going head to head with Tesla’s Powerwalls, and its release will be timed with the retail release of the Silverado EV.

The new EV truck will have bi-directional charging like the Ford F-150 Lightning, which means it will be able to feed electricity back into the home during a power outage. The F-150 was announced in February of this year. Its Intelligent Backup Power and the Home Integration Systems were developed in collaboration with Sunrun, enabling the F-150 Lightning’s battery to automatically kicks in to power the home if the grid goes down.

“GM Energy’s mission is to offer customers access to a full suite of energy products and services, including solutions beyond the vehicle, accelerating the seamless transition to an all-electric future,” said Hester. “With the expansion of our enterprise business through GM Energy and one of the most comprehensive portfolios of energy management products and services available, we will help to reduce the barriers of entry for sustainable power and further accelerate the mass adoption of EVs.”

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As part of GM Energy, Ultium Charge 360 will continue to expand its existing portfolio of integrated public charging networks, integrated mobile apps, and additional product and service offerings over time.

“The massive scale of GM Energy’s solutions will allow us to better address current challenges with grid infrastructure, energy storage and energy management head on,” says Mark Bole, vice president and head of V2X Battery Solutions at GM. “By leveraging GM’s flexible technology platforms and the power of Ultium, we’re able to provide resilient and accessible energy solutions for all customers and the grid, helping to further advance the all-electric future.”

GM’s commercial service will offer larger stationary storage units, similar to Tesla’s Megapack, which was announced in 2019. And GM is also developing hydrogen fuel cell technology.

And the final piece is the Energy Services Cloud, which is a hub that manages energy for residential, commercial and EV fleet owners. The central interface will house data and energy management tools, so that customers will be able to manage their energy consumption through GM’s energy software applications. GM has already enrolled EV customers in managed charging programs through the Energy Services Cloud, with multiple utilities across four U.S. states and growing.

GM Energy has launched a V2H pilot project between GM Energy and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), similar to the Tesla virtual power plant in Texas and California markets. The GM Energy project will enable residential customers to use their compatible EVs along with a bi-directional charger, as backup power for essential home needs during short-term power outages.

After initial lab tests, the two companies anticipate expanding the V2H offer to a subset of residential customers within PG&E’s service area, expected to begin in 2023. GM Energy is also working with other companies such as Con Edison, Graniterock and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative to help deliver energy solutions to customers, while also helping to inform and advance future GM Energy offerings.

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