Leaf EV Is Helping Power Nissan's North American Headquarters Thanks to V2G Tech

A prototype charging system allows cars to send power back into the grid.

Nissan

Nissan claims to be using Leaf electric cars to provide power to both its North American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, and its design center in San Diego, California. The automaker wants electric cars to be more closely integrated with the grid, according to a recent statement.

The Nissan facilities are equipped with prototype bidirectional charging systems, which can charge an electric car using grid electricity, but also allow that car to discharge electricity from its battery pack. Nissan claims this could allow companies to reduce electricity bills by drawing power from fleets of electric cars during periods of high demand.

This concept, known as "vehicle-to-grid" or "V2G," has already been tested by Nissan in Japan, and by other entities like the University of Delaware and the United States Air Force. If implemented on a large scale, it could allow electric cars to serve as mobile sources of emergency power during blackouts. It could also help balance the grid by using electric cars to soak up excess electricity during periods of low demand and discharge that energy during periods of high demand.

But a truly effective V2G system will require a large number of electric cars, and sales simply haven't gotten to that point yet in the U.S. Automakers would also have to equip their cars with the necessary hardware for bidirectional charging. The regulatory situation regarding V2G is also a bit murky.

Nonetheless, Nissan hopes to create an "ecosystem" of energy services around electric cars, including both V2G and the deployment of used electric-car battery packs as stationary power sources. The automaker is launching a new initiative called Nissan Energy to make that happen, as it simultaneously moves to sell more electric cars.

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The Drive