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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:28PM (#45671983)

    Or to put it another way how little energy most things need. You don't need tons of power unless you're trying to heat somewhere or move heavy things.

  • Super Capacitors (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TrentTheThief (118302) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:28PM (#45671999)

    The idea to store all excess electricity is already being investigated. But they're planning to use super capacitors rather than batteries. The idea to buy it cheap at night and sell it back to the grid during the day when theoretically, your consumption is lower (not at home, etc.) is too good not to be exploited.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:29PM (#45672021)

    100 kWh can get you from NYC to Philadelphia. Or power your house for three days.

  • by TWX (665546) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:30PM (#45672031)
    This is why I've considered putting a generator head on the PTO of a Dodge/Cummins truck. Damn near idling the truck would produce enough power to keep the whole house running during power outages.

    I've also considered building a battery room if I ever put solar on the house. Even running HVAC equipment it's doable.
  • Re:Why not batteries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bondsbw (888959) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:06PM (#45672429)

    If the car owner does all charging at the office, the cost of electricity would offset at least some of the cost of replacing the batteries. But I don't know that it would be worth it. This blog post [] suggests that the average cost per month of electricity is less than $50 for fairly average use, but the battery replacement program for the Leaf is $100 per month [].

    Then again, the car owner would have to replace their battery after so much usage anyway regardless of where it is being charged, so assuming the employer's usage causes about twice as many recharge cycles, the employee might just break even.

    Meanwhile the business gets a win by fully charging the cars when at non-peak usage, say around $0.05/KWH, and fully discharging during peak usage, say around $0.45/KWH, even if they have to supply twice as much energy to the cars as they use to power the office. (I pulled those $/KWH numbers from a post below; I have no clue if they are legitimate.)

    I probably wouldn't participate in this program unless the employer provided a bonus incentive.

  • Re:Why not batteries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bob_super (3391281) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:15PM (#45672519)

    They just need to use the Renault clone of the Nissan. You get the same battery but the car owner leases it from Renault, so they are the ones stuck with the cost extra failing batteries (and will certainly not pass it down to customers, right...).

  • Re:Why not batteries (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:29PM (#45672685)

    There are companies that will do this. I worked for one (that I shall not name). Basically, the company would audit the business's energy usage and come up with a way to save energy (efficient HVAC, lighting, electrical, low-power standby etc). Then, they would make a proposal to split the cost in savings. So all the money is fronted and the business receiving the service pays nothing. The net result is one company saves money, the other earns a profit from a portion of the savings. Win Win.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:23PM (#45673317) Journal
    Some of the habits of people are very hard to change, that much I agree with you. My uncle who immigrated in 1970. In his mind it is indelibly imprinted, "Coca Cola is cheap. Toilet paper is expensive". He would pay any price asked by a coke machine but bitch and moan about the price of toilet paper. But that is not always the case.

    We know people waiting for 9pm to make long distance calls don't we? There were times we would yack on and on during weekends but be curt and to the point during week days before 9 PM. So yes peak load pricing would work. If you make it worthwhile. And what is not worthwhile to someone above 400% of FPL would be very much in demand by someone below 133% of FPL.

    If one can make ice in the basement at nights and use it to cool the house in the summer day, 10$ a month savings would be worth it to someone, cutting the bill by half would be worth to someone else.

  • Re:Why not batteries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:47PM (#45673639) Journal

    One of the taller buildings close to where I work has six windmills mounted on top. You can often see them twirling away. The local alternative paper did an article on them once. Apparently the building receives up to 4% of their total energy from the windmills. This is a LONG way from "windmill powered buildings", (although is a higher percentage than what I expected) but it does serve another important purpose: From most of downtown, you can see that the building owners have put up windmills. This is apparently important enough that the actual savings wasn't a consideration.

  • Re:Billing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @06:10PM (#45675047)


    The lithium batteries that are popular now, have limited cycles. You don't excpect them to be useable after 4-5 years.

    But there are other kinds of batteries. My car has sodium nickel chloride batteries. It is 5 years old, and has the same capacity as new. The range has not decreased at all. The batteries are practically everlasting. So batteries do not have to wear down. A huge advantage compared to lithium, with the batteries being the most expensive part in the car. Of course there are disadvantages too - these batteries cannot be fast charged in half an hour. They need 8 hours or so - but that works for my use.

    If you want to install batteries in a building, you won't need rapid charge/discharge either. Just fill a room the size of two parking spaces with batteries - and use a battery chemistry that don't wear down in the short timespan of 5 years. Lithium is light which is nice for cars - but light weight is not a concern for buildings. Nickel chloride is used in some submarines too. Longevity beats lightweight.

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