Nissan LEAF Leaves Home, Joins the U.S. Air Force For Largest V2G Study Yet

The world’s most popular electric car — the five-seat Nissan LEAF hatchback — was designed to be the ideal family-friendly plug-in for urban and suburban life, carrying out daily duties like the school run, errands and commutes on just a single overnight charge.

Nissan's LEAF to Home System lets a Nissan LEAF power a home in an emergency. Now the U.S. military are using the same technology on a much larger scale.

Nissan’s LEAF to Home System lets a Nissan LEAF power a home in an emergency. Now the U.S. military are using the same technology on a much larger scale.

But now thirteen Nissan LEAFs have left family life at home and joined the U.S. Air Force, working with a fleet of 29 other plug-in vehicles as part of the largest vehicle to grid project the world has ever seen.

Vehicle to grid technology — where electric cars can both draw and provide power to an electrical grid in response to grid demand patterns — has traditionally been overlooked by world governments, power companies and automakers. But since the  devastating tsunami and earth quake that hit Japan in spring 2011, there’s been a renewed interest in using electric vehicles as emergency backup power supplies in the event of a disaster or feeding power back to the electrical grid in response to high grid demand.

And it’s something that could prove useful in both civilian and military contexts.

Partnering with the State of California and Souther California Edison, the U.S. Air Force Base in Los Angeles has become the first federal facility to replace its entire general-purpose fleet with plug-in vehicles, comprising of a range of different vehicles from all-electric cars like the LEAF to plug-in sedans, pick up trucks and minivans.

Alongside the other vehicles already on the fleet, the newly conscripted Nissan LEAFs will be called into daily service as cars, providing transportation to military personnel in and around the Los Angeles AFB. When not being used for transportation duties however, they will be plugged into a suite of specially-designed two-way charging stations via their built-in CHAdeMO DC quick charging port.

The Los Angeles U.S. Air Force base now has 13 Nissan LEAFs as part of its 42-strong Vehicle-to-Grid project.

The Los Angeles U.S. Air Force base now has 13 Nissan LEAFs as part of its 42-strong Vehicle-to-Grid project. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Blog)

Using the same protocols as Nissan has demonstrated in the past with both its Vehicle to Home emergency backup power solution and Vehicle-to-Office projects, the Air Force charging stations will both charge up the battery packs of the LEAFs during periods of low demand and also feed the power back to the grid during peak energy usage.

Although the exact specifications of the U.S. Air Force’s V2G system are unknown, if we assume each LEAF can provide 6 kilowatts of instantaneous power through the specially-built charging stations– the discharge limit of Nissan’s own vehicle-to-grid systems — all 13 LEAFs could theoretically provide 78 kilowatts of power to the electrical grid for nearly four hours from all thirteen fully-charged battery packs.

If we assume the other 29 vehicles in the project have similar capabilities, the total installation V2G output power would be more than 252 kilowatts of instantaneous power.

While the Los Angeles AFB is the first U.S. Air Force base to make use of vehicle-to-grid technology on this kind of scale, the U.S. Air Force says the Department of Defence Plug-in Electric Vehicle Program will be rolling out similar projects at the Fort Hood, Texas; Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey and Mountain View Army Reserve Centre in California over the coming months.

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  • The Air Force project is similar to a “Vehicle-to-Building” demonstration conducted in Japan last fall using 6 LEAFs to share 25 kW of power. nhttp://www.nissan-global.com/EN/NEWS/2013/_STORY/131129-01-e.htmlnnNice to see the size of each Energy Storage project grow. The future is brings not only energy efficient vehicles, but shows us living and working in energy efficient buildings.nnBTW:n Is great to see the USAF testing CHAdeMO-to-Grid connection technology in addition to other connection technologies. We still have much to learn about energy storeage to grid infrastructure without getting hung up on standards to early.

  • BlackTalon53 .

    I doubt the LEAF batteries will be completely drained on a regular basis, more likely they are a stopgap measure to keep everything running for a few minutes until some big emergency generators have warmed up and can deliver full power.