Nissan Donates LEAF Electric Cars to Rest Stops in Japan as “Emergency Power Stations”

By · September 04, 2013

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The plan to supply Car-to-home power systems will to roadside rest area stations in Japan begins this month.

After the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, automakers like Nissan and Mitsubishi have developed commercial systems which enable electric car owners to power their homes in an emergency, using electrical energy stored in their car’s battery pack. While they operate in slightly different ways, the goal is the same: to provide backup emergency power in a disaster.

Now, in an attempt to help prefectures across Japan provide emergency power in the event of a future natural disaster, Nissan this week announced that it will donate one LEAF electric car and one LEAF-to-Home power station to a rest stop in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Unlike U.S. rest stops, the Japanese rest areas, known as Michinoeki, not only offer travelers a place to stretch your legs or use the toilet—but also provide local communities a place to shop and hold community events throughout the year. Because of their location, along major arterial roads across Japan, Michinoeki are the ideal locations to base emergency response operations in a natural disaster.

Making use of the two-way vehicle to grid capabilities specified in the CHAdeMO DC Quick Charge standard, the LEAF-to-Home power units contain a two-way 6-kilowatt charging unit that can not only charge a LEAF’s battery pack from full to empty in less than four hours, but can also draw electricity from the LEAF’s battery pack to provide 100-volt backup electricity to power lights, communications equipment and even basic kitchen appliances when grid-supplied power is disrupted.

The units are also capable of intelligently aiding the local electrical grid during normal grid operation, helping smooth out grid demand by charging the car during low demand periods and then feeding it back to the grid in times of high demand.

As the devastating earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011 illustrated, easy access to emergency power after a natural disaster can dramatically speed up emergency response efforts, providing much-needed heat and power to disaster-stricken areas, helping life to return to normal as quickly as possible. Nissan’s 47 donated LEAFs and LEAF-to-Home power stations will not only provide each michinoeki with zero-emission transportation for everyday tasks, but will also enable everyday life to continue in Japan even in the face of another major natural disaster.

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