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Japan Power Transportation

Six Electric Cars Can Power an Office Building 296

Posted by timothy
from the sinks-and-sources dept.
cartechboy writes "How many Nissan Leafs does it take to power an office building? The answer, it turns out, is six. Nissan is the latest Japanese automaker to explore electric "vehicle-to-building" setups, this time with impressive results. The company started testing its latest system at the Nissan Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi City, Japan, during the summer. It found that just six Leafs plugged in to the building's power supply allowed it to cut peak-hour electricity use by 2 percent. Annualized, that's a savings of half a million yen (about $4,800 US) in electricity costs. How it works: The building pulls electricity from the plugged-in vehicles during peak-use hours, when power is most expensive, and then sends the power back to recharge the cars when grid prices fall. Nissan says the system is set up to ensure the cars are fully charged by the end of the workday. (Is this a devious secret way to make sure workers stay until a certain time?) Next up: Why not just do this using batteries--never mind the cars?"
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Six Electric Cars Can Power an Office Building

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  • Why not batteries (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:21PM (#45671897)

    The batteries in a Leaf are a significant fraction of the price, few business want to spend $120k on batteries, when they can get them for 'free' from their workers.

  • Screw that. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:21PM (#45671905)
    This sounds like it would decrease the battery lifetime of my car. Unless I'm getting free charging, no dice.
  • Re:Billing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:25PM (#45671951)

    Also for the wear and tear on the batteries caused by the additional charge/discharge cycles. Batteries can only handle a limited number of cycles so this'll shorten their life. Those batteries aren't cheap either.

  • by tftp (111690) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:27PM (#45671969) Homepage

    "Why not just do this using batteries--never mind the cars?"

    Batteries have a limited number of recharge cycles, and they are very expensive (1/3 to 1/2 of the cost of the vehicle.) It's much easier to stick those expenses to the employees.

    Other than that, yes, it would make a lot of sense to use stationary batteries. They wouldn't have to be light and small, for one. However it remains to be seen if the saved 2% is enough to pay for all the equipment.

  • I would take the expense of maintaining my vehicle and getting to plug it in at work (with a guaranteed charge at end of day) any day over the prospect of having my car searched and being arrested for plugging it in to an available outlet.
  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:29PM (#45672005)

    few business want to spend $120k on batteries.

    I wonder how much power they would save by investing $120K in energy efficiency improvements? My guess in >2%

  • Company cars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:32PM (#45672055)
    I don't think it's intended for rank-and-file workers to supplement the company's electricity, it's probably more that higher-ranking employees with company cars would end up doing this.

    If work gave me a car to use for several years, I don't think that the negligible electrical costs that I might incur at home would be enough to make me bat an eye at such an arrangement.
  • by VernonNemitz (581327) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:32PM (#45672069) Journal
    Not to mention the well-known fact that batteries have a limited number of discharge/recharge cycles. So, when the batteries in the cars eventually fail, the car-owners have to pay to replace them, not the building-owners.
  • Re:Screw that. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grmoc (57943) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:33PM (#45672083)

    Yes, and if the batteries are a significant part of the price of the car (true today), this is potentially moving significant expense to the car's owner.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:41PM (#45672159)

    The batteries in a Leaf are a significant fraction of the price, few business want to spend $120k on batteries, when they can get them for 'free' from their workers.

    The cost of the batteries is small in comparison to maintenance. Managing the batteries means hiring someone with that knowledge or paying for training/other development to get it in-house...at which point, those people would become more desirable on the job market as more buildings installed battery systems, increasing cost of retaining that talent. Then there are the business processes that need to be developed, the provisioning of a room to store them (and OSHA/building code concerns around a room full of batteries, which is no minor thing), and so on.

    Or, they can just use the cars parked outside, offloading all of that effort to the owners of the cars.

  • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:43PM (#45672187)
    Also, remember these power rates in Japan are much higher than most other places, so the economics don't universally apply.
  • by mveloso (325617) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:44PM (#45672199)

    Stream that diesel from your car/truck's gas tank into the generator's gas tank, and you're all set.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:50PM (#45672263) Homepage

    well the problem, of course, is that the savings were less than 5k/year. That is less than 1k/year/car

    This doesn't leave much room to both benefit the company and provide much bonus before you even figure that this may decrease battery life span. Of course, it also has to be offset by the fact that its also a "top off", presumably the cars drove in, so are not fully charged at the start of the day.

    Maybe it works out, but its not a lot to work with for starters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:59PM (#45673029)

    The other problem is what happens in the event of an emergency (wife goes into labor, kid gets suspended at school, etc) and you don't have a full charge due to the building syphoning power off intending to put it back by the end of the day.

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