Nissan North America is planning to roll out 30 new solar-poweredelectric vehicle charging stations that will both allow the public tocharge up and provide energy storage research for the local utility.
Nissan released its electric vehicle, the Leaf, earlier this year and is now rolling out some infrastructure that will make it easier forvisitors and employees to charge their electric Nissan Leafs at localNissan facilities in Tennessee.
The headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., already has some chargersinstalled. But 30 new ones at the facilities in Smyrna will givecommunity members and Nissan visitors a place to plug in, said JohnHarris, director of facilities and environmental engineering.
The project coordinator, Stacie Cain, said that Nissan decided to explore the solar option, rather than created grid-reliant charging stations for the publicbecause the company wanted to respond to utility concerns that electricvehicles would be a dangerous draw on the grid.
“We wanted to minimize our overall impact on the grid,” Crain said.
The Japanese auto manufacturer does most of its U.S. operations inTennessee and has been working closely with the Tennessee ValleyAuthority, the local utility, and Oakridge Research Laboratories on this project.
“There is a bit of a demonstration element here as well,” Harris said of the companies planned solar car chargers. “We want to see how we can further reduce the demand on the grid by using the Nissan Leaf battery to store energy.”
Harris said the new charging stations would connect Nissan Leaf’slithium-ion batteries to the solar panels to capture and save energyfrom them when they weren’t being used to charge an electric vehicle.Since the systems will be grid-connected, they could sell energy backinto the grid during peak demand in the late afternoon and early evening after the sun has gone down.
In addition to providing some data testing on the possibility of using electric vehicle batteries as back-up energy storage for the grid, the research also provides a good second-life use for the vehicle batteries, Crain said.
He said that once the batteries have cycled all they can for a car,they still have about 60 percent capacity left and could be useful inenergy storage.
The Knoxville Nissan location is performing a similar study, but with lead-acid batteries, Harris said. The different testing could providevaluable battery comparisons, he said.
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