Nissan’s Leaf uses new solar-powered charging system

11 Jul 2011

Japanese automaker Nissan has unveiled a new charging system that gets electricity from solar power that can also be stored in the lithium-ion batteries used in its Leaf electric car.

The 488 newly-installed solar panels at the company’s global headquarters will produce enough electricity to charge 1,800 Leafs a year, letting drivers plug into one of its charging spots to travel on carbon-free energy.

Nissan is looking ahead to about five years’ time when ageing Leaf vehicles may offer alternative business opportunities in using their lithium-ion batteries as a storage place for electricity.

Electricity generation and storage for consumers have been topical in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami caused massive blackouts in the country’s northeast in March.

Reducing electricity consumption

Beginning this month, big-lot electricity users in eastern Japan are required to cut peak consumption by 15pc during the hot summer months, and utilities have also appealed to households to do their part.

Through a joint venture set up last year with Sumitomo Corp, Nissan plans to re-fabricate and resell its electric cars’ high-capacity batteries as power storage units when the car is traded in or scrapped starting in 2016.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp has also just revealed it is this year launching a portable converter with enough capacity to allow its electric vehicles to power household electronics.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp has begun a test-run of a model home that manages electricity consumption and taps into weather forecasts to maximise the use of solar power.

Karina Corbett