By Sven Gustafson
Nissan is launching a pilot program aimed at using the battery-electric Leaf to serve as a power source for buildings during peak power demands to help it cut electricity costs at its Franklin, Tenn., headquarters and San Diego design center.
Dubbed Nissan Energy Share, the pilot aims to demonstrate to other companies the potential of electric vehicles to serve as energy storage systems that can power external electric loads, such as buildings and homes. Nissan is partnering with Charlottesville, Va.-based Fermata Energy on bi-directional EV charging technology using Fermata’s chargers and software and the Leaf’s ability to feed power back into the grid or buildings. Fermata has operated a pilot project in Danville, Va., using four Leafs since 2016.
The project will continuously monitor a building’s electrical load and look for opportunities to draw energy from the Leaf batteries during more expensive, high-demand periods. Nissan says the program is ideal for companies that use fleet vehicles that don’t all fully drain their batteries, and could result in electricity savings and reduce the peak load for local utilities. It appears to be patterned after a vehicle-to-grid home battery-pack program Nissan has been operating in Europe.
If the technology and business viability prove solid, Nissan says it could commercialize the technology. Fermata says it plans to bring a UL-Certified bidirectional charger to the market early next year.
Additionally, Nissan says it is reusing batteries that have reached the end of their lifecycles powering Leafs to power its North American facilities and is investigating new ways to recycle lithium-ion batteries.