General Motors is expanding energy storage and management services, taking on grid reliability and a multitude of sustainable technologies to go beyond automaking, and will operate it all under a new business unit called GM Energy.
GM Energy expands on the automaker’s existing energy management platform to offer microgrids, stationary storage, hydrogen fuel cells, solar products, bi-directional charring, and vehicle-to-grid applications, among a variety of software and technology tools. The new unit will offer a business platform, called Ultium Commercial, as well as a residential system.
GM says the scope of the service will also enable the sale of energy from stationary storage batteries and electric vehicles back to the grid, creating potential value for users as well as increasing energy resilience. The company says several large companies in the US have agreed to work with GM Energy.
The central interface for GM Energy’s platforms will be a cloud-based system that will include data and energy management tools. The commercial platform will include stationary battery storage units and microgrids connected to fuel cells, and the system will allow businesses and fleets to manage their energy consumption and sell the energy they produce back to utilities during peak demand periods to help grid reliability.
GM says the scope of the energy management offering especially addresses the need to keep the grid operational and mitigate the impact of power outages. The US Department of Energy estimates power outages cost businesses nearly $150 billion per year. This year alone grid vulnerability has been a concern in Texas and California due to high demand created by extreme heat events, as well as hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico.
Travis Hester, GM’s vice president of electric vehicle growth operations, says grid reliability is a primary focus of the new venture as well as moving the company’s focus beyond traditional vehicle production. He says GM Energy is offering one of the most expansive energy management systems available and that “we will help to reduce the barriers of entry for sustainable power and further accelerate the mass adoption of EVs.”
He tells CNBC that the market for the energy services provided by GM Energy is between $125 billion and $250 billion.
The venture builds on GM’s Ultium Charge 360 management system which was unveiled in April 2021. The platform integrates vehicle charging networks and vehicle apps, as well as offers access to 60,000 chargers in North America. GM says with the new venture it will expand its public charging networks and overall is investing $750 million in charging infrastructure.
Earlier in 2022, GM unveiled commercial applications for hydrogen fuel cells and mobile power generation. GM, which plans to invest $35 billion in electric vehicles through 2025, has also recently increased its involvement in battery recycling and renewable energy production.
GM Energy is working with several companies to provide energy services, including a bi-directional charger and backup power project with Pacific Gas and Electric Company. It says it is also working with Con Edison, Graniterock, New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, and solar energy provider SunPower.