Become Your Own Power Grid
General Motors recently announced that it is creating a new business that will offer solar panels, electric vehicle chargers and battery packs to homes and businesses. They are calling the new venture GM Energy and it will build on its battery and software expertise to offer electricity storage and management to consumers to help optimize charging and eliminate electric grid disruptions.
GM Energy hopes to offer products, services, and solutions that it calls “energy management.” On the hardware side, this will include everything from battery storage and solar panels for household electricity to even hydrogen fuel cells. On the software side, it will supply cloud-based software to link these products to electric vehicles and utility companies.
The new company is part of GM’s target to develop a new line of electric vehicles that will eventually replace its gasoline-powered, internal-combustion vehicles. GM Energy could pave the way for transitioning consumers away from mass power grids in favor of maintaining their own in-house grid system. The company says its products, in part provided by partners, can be tailored for individual homeowners. Businesses will use GM Energy to help them operate and maintain fleets of delivery EVs.
The plan is to roll out consumer operations in sync with the arrival of GM’s new 2024 Chevrolet Silverado electric pickup truck. GM Energy will assist the auto giant in developing and controlling the customer experience for new GM EV owners, and it will create a sustainable new energy business as General Motors moves to double its annual revenue to $280 billion by the end of this decade.
The consumer energy angle isn’t a new concept. Tesla has offered solar and energy storage units for homes in concert with its electric cars for several years. Ford is also entering the market, partnering with Sunrun as a preferred installer of home energy systems along with electricity providers such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) of California and Nevada.
Travis Hester, vice president of GM’s growth operations explained on CNBC that GM Energy will make energy grids more resilient for customers. “If you have a sudden unexpected power outage, then you can use your vehicle or your stationary storage box to be able to power your home or small business.”
With the conversion from gas-powered to electric-powered vehicles moving forward at full steam, concerns over America’s lagging power grid offers new opportunities for companies such as GM Energy. Hester says that the new company is partnering with solar power leader SunPower to provide solar panels and installation of home systems. It is also tapping into regional electric companies such as PG&E and Con Edison. He hints that many new partnerships will be announced very soon.
Ultimately, we may be looking at GM Energy home charging systems that not only allow EVs to power homes during a blackout, but through the use of Solar panels, provide energy back to the grid during peak hours, offering savings to consumer electric bills, and who knows, maybe even a bit of income in your pocket.