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.
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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