Could Your EV One Day Power Your Office? Nissan Says ‘Yes’

As most people who work in a large office will tell you, it’s rare these days to work for a company where every employee is guaranteed a parking space in the company lot. In fact, unless you happen to work in an out-of-town office complex, or you happen to work at a really big company with a lot of spare land, the chances are you only get a parking space if you’re management, have a special parking permit, or arrive at the office so early that a large proportion of your colleagues haven’t even got out of bed yet.

Powering your office to help energy consumption? Nissan says it's a possibility.

Powering your office to help energy consumption? Nissan says it’s a possibility.

But imagine being told that your EV can park for free at work — and charge — provided you agree to let your car power your office as and when it’s needed.  Or to put it another way, letting your boss save money on the company utility bill by using your car as a giant battery pack.

Enter Nissan, and its Advanced Technology Centre in Japan. As InsideEvs explains, the Japanese automaker has been testing what is essentially a larger version of the 6 kilowatt bi-directional LEAF-To-Home system it launched last year for its domestic market customers.

Built around six bi-directional fast-charging stations, the Vehicle-To-Building system can not only charge six Nissan LEAFs simultaneously using the car’s on-board CHAdeMO DC Quick Charge port, but it can also pull power from the cars at peak times to help keep operating costs down.

The system is fairly simple: drive to work as normal, and plug your car in before heading to your desk. Then it, and the other connected cars, will be charged throughout the day at point where electricity is at its cheapest — normally during a few hours mid-morning. By lunchtime, when electricity is being charged to the business at peak rates, the cars than then feed power back to the building, before making use of two or three hours of off-peak electricity in the middle of the afternoon to recharge themselves before the evening commute home.

So far, Nissan has said that the test system at its Advanced Technology Centre would save a business around $5,000 per year in electrical power costs, and has resulted to a 2.5 percent reduction in electricity consumption during peak hours.

For most companies, that won’t be necessarily enough money to offset the cost of installing the system in the first place. But we can certainly see the system being installed in situations where independence from the electrical grid is desirable in an emergency. Think of a local TV station, emergency response centre, or perhaps even hospital, where a bank of EVs could help keep essential equipment running in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster.

While it’s cool however, we think that the system is unlikely to be adopted just yet by businesses. After all, there aren’t enough people driving EVs — specifically Nissan LEAFs — to make this worthwhile…yet. Second, we’d have to assume that anyone who let their own personal EV be used in this way would have to be content with the fact that their car’s battery packs were being constantly cycled throughout the day, essentially ageing the battery pack every time it was emptied and refilled without driving a single mile.

Is Nissan’s Vehicle-To-Building a viable vision of the future, or just a nice showcase of a technology best suited to the home? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Marc Fontana

    While the Vehicle-to-Grid technology is interesting and I could see it being applied for back up power at home in the event of a power outage, I would be less inclined to want to share my battery with my office, even with the promise of free parking. Let’s be real, a battery isn’t like a conventional fuel storage tank which can be refilled almost indefinitely. The battery pack in an EV has a finite number of charge cycles and I for one have invested in it for TRANSPORTATION, not to support the Grid. Every charge cycle used for a purpose other than driving is one less driving opportunity as well as a shortening of the EV’s battery life. Buildings can benefit from battery storage for power back up, but using expensive Li-ion battery packs to do what is much cheaper to accomplish with deep cycle Lead-Acid (or re-cycled EV batteries when more of them are available) is not a smart move.

    • Jonathan Tracey

      However I would agree to using up the finite charge cycles to help your company out provided it was reciprocated when you needed to change the battery pack as it had degraded. Unlikely so I would pass on this one 🙂

  • jeffsongster

    I would be interested in getting this tech installed when my current battery packs have lost enough bars to warrant replacement. Could we combine this box with a rack module to hold the batteries too tired for transport use but still ok for several years to soak up my excess solar generation. A home energy storage and saving system also capable of running the home during outages or living ‘off the grid’… and a great recycle of the core pack that comes out of my 2 LEAFs when their 24kWh packs are replaced by the new 30 kWh ones in a few years. Keeps them useful and offers home storage like Tesla’s wall module. Also slow but effective home DC CHAdeMO charging. Faster than AC?