As long as I’ve been reading and writing about electric vehicles, people have been eager to see electric vehicles power homes and grids (instead of just grids and homes powering electric cars). There are reasons why this vehicle-to-grid technology is not commonplace across the electric vehicle market, and I’ll get back to that in a minute, but there’s no doubt there has been some notable progress toward that dream. A big update this week is that Nissan has approved the first ever bi-directional charger for mass-market use with a Nissan LEAF.
Nissan has been doing vehicle-to-grid trials with Fermata Energy for at least a few years. When you have years of trials, though, and nothing hits the normal consumer market, then you start to doubt the future of that technology. For a while, it seemed like that’s where we were going with vehicle-to-grid tech, and Fermata Energy in particular. However, maybe I was just impatient — news is that Nissan has approved a bi-directional charger that will probably be on the consumer market soon. (And, notably, usage of the bi-directional charger will not affect Nissan’s battery warranty.)
In an increasingly competitive EV market, it can be hard to stand out. However, Nissan is legitimately doing so here. “The Nissan LEAF is currently the only fully electric passenger vehicle in the US market able to supply energy to the grid, allowing LEAF owners with the Fermata Energy FE-15 bi-directional charger to park their vehicle, plug it in, and save money with their local electric utility as well as reduce the total cost of ownership of the vehicle,” Nissan writes. If you’re thrilled by the EV-to-grid concept, then the LEAF seems like it’s the car for you.
“Ideal for companies with fleet vehicles, the Fermata Energy Demand Charge Management application, along with the FE-15 charger, continuously monitors a building’s electrical loads, and may draw on the Nissan LEAF’s energy to provide power to the building during more expensive high-demand periods. In states with utility demand response programs, bi-directional-enabled Nissan LEAF vehicles (MY2013 and later) are able to safely send energy stored in the battery to the grid during peak energy demand times, such as in summer months.”
The downsides to V2G tech are that it must degrade your battery (to some extent or another) to be discharging and charging more frequently, and it leaves your battery with less charge at times when you may wish you hadn’t discharged at all. Some people will always take that tradeoff, though, and it is great to simply have an option on the table for consumers who really want V2G tech. Stay tuned and watch this space.
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