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Blackout? No problem for Nissan Leaf-powered buildings.

Japanese automakers are exploring electric vehicle-to-building systems that could provide backup power in the case of outages. Electric car power could also help large companies reduce energy costs. 

By Antony IngramGuest blogger / December 11, 2013

Angie Vorhies plugs in the charging cord to her Nissan Leaf electric vehicle at a mall in San Diego last month. Many automakers are exploring electric cars as backup power sources for buildings.

Lenny Ignelzi/AP/File


Japan's geological instability poses a real energy problem for the country--as witnessed during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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Generating power and transmitting it to homes and businesses can be difficult following an earthquake or Tsunami, which is why several Japanese automakers have explored electric vehicle-to-building systems.

Nissan is the latest to demonstrate its own system, in impressive style.

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As Slashgear reports (via Japan Daily Press), just six Nissan Leafs are capable of powering the company's Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi City, Japan.

It isn't all about providing power in blackouts, though--even though that's a useful side-benefit of the "Vehicle-To-Building" power system.

Instead, its main purpose is to reduce energy use at peak times. When power is cheaper during off-peak times, the cars are charged, and the building receives power as normal. But as prices shoot up, the building starts to draw power from the electric cars.

The benefits may only be slight--Nissan says it cuts peak-hour electricity use by about 2.5 percent--but the savings could really add up. Over the course of the year, the six-Leaf system could save half a million Yen, or about $4,800.

It's easy to imagine it being particularly useful for a small business, or even home owners. Using Leaf battery power when rates are high, and charging the car when electricity costs are low, could really save money over the course of a year.

Then there's that blackout protection: The company's Leaf-To-Home system provides power to your house should the lights go out. It may drain your range, but arguably it's more important keeping your family warm and fed...

Back at Nissan's Advanced Technology Center, the company says the system still ensures that employees' cars are fully charged by the end of the working day--so you won't get back to your vehicle to find your computer or the coffee machine has stolen all its power.

The Vehicle-To-Building power system is still at the early field test stage, but it isn't hard to see the system growing as Japan's power grid copes with reductions in nuclear-generated energy, following Fukushima--as well as future environmental disasters.

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