Nissan Leaf owners in the U.K. will soon be able to make extra cash by selling electricity stored in the car battery back to the National Grid.
Nissan and Italian power company Enel announced the plan Tuesday. They will install vehicle-to-grid (V2G) units and software for 100 Leaf or e-NV200 electric van owners for the trial program. The plan is similar to Tesla's Powerwall battery, but on four wheels.
"We see Nissan electric vehicles as being the mobile energy hubs of the future, pioneering a self-sustaining energy infrastructure that will help solve the capacity issues of the future," said Paul Willcox, chariman of Nissan Europe, in a statement. "Smart energy management is one of the biggest challenges any nation faces for the future, which is why this trial is so critical in assessing the feasibility of using variable, more flexible energy sources."
This isn't like siphoning gas out of the tank. Unlike gas, electricity prices and demand fluctuate throughout the day. Many electric vehicles offer the option of charging during off-peak times, when rates are lower – for example, at night. Owners would then be able to sell the electricity back to the grid for more money than they paid for it.
In Ontario, off-peak rates, which are from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. during weekdays, are less than half the price of the on-peak rate.
"The installation of our innovative two-way charging technology will encourage the integration of non-programmable renewable energy flow into the grid and will help the spread of electric mobility in the country, benefitting the energy sector and the environment, while also having a positive impact on electric owners' wallets," said Ernesto Ciorra, Enels' head of innovation and sustainability, in a statement.
The idea of transferring electricity from cars back to the grid has existed for a few years, but this is the first time it will be tried with a mass-produced EV, and with the general public.
One fear of having a lot of EVs on the road is the potential strain on the power grid, possibly causing blackouts and infrastructure failure. Being able to transfer energy out of the car could relieve this strain and increase stability.
Nissan said a fully charged Leaf can power an average home for two days and the plan can earn owners as much as $1,100 a year.
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