month, Nissan was looking for ways to utilize the battery packs inside of its
Leaf EV once the vehicle has reached the end of its lifespan. The automaker
found that these batteries will still have 80 percent of their original charge
capacity once the Leaf is ready to be laid to rest, and with its plans to
release seven EV models (in addition to the Leaf) by 2016, that will be a lot
of leftover batteries.
Nissan found that using
these batteries as energy storage devices made the most sense. In fact, the company kept
four old Leaf batteries in a cellar in a Nissan building, and the batteries
were hooked up to 488 solar panels on the roof. This allows the batteries to
store the energy that these solar panels create, and the power produced is
enough to charge 1,800 Leaf vehicles annually.
Now, Nissan is introducing another similar
initiative called "Leaf-to-Home," which
will use electricity stored in Leaf batteries to be distributed to residential
homes and appliances. The new plan serves as a two-way charging system, meaning
that the Leaf can be charged as usual, but the Leaf can eventually return the
favor by supplying electricity from its battery when there's a local power
The system is currently being tested in Japan,
since March's 9.0-magnitude
earthquake caused an energy shortage. The Leaf's 24 kilowatt hour (kWh)
battery is capable of powering a Japanese home for two days.
An American home, on the other hand, may not
benefit quite as much from such a system due to the fact that the average U.S.
home uses 908 kWh electricity per month, which equates to 30 kWh per day.
According to recent
reports, the Leaf battery would barely charge an American household for a
day at full charge. However, it could be useful for a local brown-out.
Nissan hopes to be able to sell a commercial
version of the "Leaf-to-Home" next year in Japan.