Nissan has unveiled new pilot projects this week to power buildings with Leaf electric vehicles and it is launching ‘Nissan Energy’ to eventually commercialize this vehicle-to-home/building system with a new partner: Fermata Energy.
When Nissan launched the next generation Leaf last year, one of the main new features was the built-in bidirectional charging capacity.
It’s something that the Japanese automaker has been working on for years, but it was mostly only part of some test programs here and there.
A year after the launch of the next-gen Leaf, we haven’t heard much about the company utilizing the feature, but now Nissan is launching a new ‘Nissan Energy’ program to take full advantage of it.
Nissan says that the goal is for “owners of Nissan’s electric vehicles to be able to easily connect their cars with energy systems to charge their batteries, power homes and businesses or feed energy back to power grids. ”
The main goal is to reduce charging demand by shaving peak demand using Leaf battery packs, which is mainly useful to businesses, but the same technology can also be used by Leaf owners to power their home.
Here’s a simple graphic that Nissan released about the technology:
Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s EVP in charge of global head of marketing, sales and electric vehicles, commented about the launch:
“Nissan Energy will enable our customers to use their electric cars for much more than just driving – now they can be used in nearly every aspect of the customer’s lives. Our Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision calls for changing how cars are integrated with society, and Nissan Energy turns that vision into reality.”
They listed three pilot projects where they are going to be testing the system with Leaf fleets:
- Franklin, Tennessee: Nissan North America will be piloting the use of LEAF vehicles to assist in powering its headquarters facilities during peak electrical demand times, anticipating significant cost savings
- Hagen, Germany: LEAF vehicles will be used as a reserve for the German electricity grid, in an innovative pilot project involving Nissan, technology company The Mobility House, energy supplier ENERVIE and transmission system operator Amprion
- Japan: Nissan is working with partners such as electric and telecom companies, conducting field tests of vehicle-to-grid and virtual power plant systems to confirm and promote opportunities for electric vehicles to assist with managing energy
In the US, Nissan partnered with Fermata Energy, a vehicle-to-grid systems company.
They had a prototype of their vehicle-to-grid device at a launch event in Los Angeles yesterday:
We talked with co-founder John Wheeler at the event and he was very excited about the partnership and the opportunity to create a lot more value out of these vehicles.
They are targeting fleet operators first, especially municipal fleets, which Wheeler says are leaving a lot of money on the table.
Vehicles in municipal fleets sit in parking lots for long periods of time. If they update their fleets to Nissan Leafs and connect them with Fermata’s vehicle-to-building devices, their software could manage when they charge and discharge in order to shave peak demand and save the municipality a lot of money.
Wheeler said that depending on regional demand charges, some fleets could pay back their vehicle-to-building devices in a few years and cover the cost of charging the Leafs – resulting in important fuel savings for the municipalities and significantly reducing their carbon footprint.
On Nissan’s side, the company is focusing on making sure that the vehicle-to-home/building system doesn’t negatively affect the battery pack. As long as it is safe, Nissan is happy to let Leaf owners make some more money off of their battery packs.
Fermata’s software also makes sure that it doesn’t discharge your vehicle when you need the range.
It’s all about giving you the opportunity to take advantage of your battery pack when it is needed, but if the energy capacity is needed more in your car, it lets you keep it charged.
We need more of this. With two electric vehicles, I often have 75 to 160 kWh of energy capacity mostly doing nothing in a driveway all the time.
It would be great to put them to use. Again, that’s as long as it doesn’t drastically affect the longevity of the battery pack.
But peak shaving is where the money is and that’s just discharging for a short period of time.
For markets with high charging demand, like San Diego, Fermata sees a lot of potential. It just so happens that Nissan has a design center in San Diego and many employees drive Leafs.
They are running a test program and they appeared happy with the results.
Fermata expects their system to launch for fleets in the first quarter 2019 and a residential system could be available by the end of 2019. We will check in with them and Nissan once they launch and report back.