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Advocates of electric cars and renewable energy have talked for years about repackaging the battery packs built for cars as home energy storage devices once they can no longer hold enough charge to run a vehicle. The idea behind the prototype is two-fold: to provide a market for past-their-prime batteries, giving them a resale value that will lower their cost of ownership, and providing distributed storage that could be used to shore up weak spots on the grid or to absorb energy from intermittent sources like solar panels and wind machines and deliver it in a steady stream suitable for the power grid. A battery pack from a Chevy Volt. A new prototype lashes five of them together in an array that is supposed to provide two hours of electricity for three to five average houses.