By on September 4, 2010

The Japanese seem to be convinced that EVs are the wave of the future. They are so convinced that they are thinking up schemes to use that big expensive battery in the car for other things if the car is not used for other things. Such as when that new EV is sitting in the driveway while Watanabe-san commuted to work using the JR-train. Nissan, Hitachi, and Orix announced that they will work together on turning those batteries-on-wheels into dual-use technology.

“The idea is to prepare the groundwork for an infrastructure in which electric vehicles are part of a broader use of renewable energy,” says The Nikkei [sub]. This is roughly how it’s supposed to work:

  • Solar battery-chargers developed by Hitachi will keep the batteries topped off.
  • Control systems developed by Nissan enable the lithium ion batteries in the Leaf to power the house when the car is not used.
  • Management technologies developed by Orix turn the car in the driveway into a small electric-vehicle car-sharing business.

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, or NEDO, will shoulder two-thirds of the project’s cost. They seem to be so convinced of the success of the EV that they are already worried about it sitting around idle.

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14 Comments on “EV 2.0: It Powers Your House...”

  • avatar

    That is really smart marketing.  In essence they are going to drive up the number of cycles each battery sees, boosting the replacement rate of the batteries.  It is “planned obsolescence”  in Green clothing.

  • avatar

    Almost everything “new” in the EV world was described a long time ago by the folks at AC Propulsion. They have a technology/product called V2G (Vehicle to Grid power) which you can read about on their web site.  They’re also the folks in the background behind the motors and controllers in most of the “production” EVs that have been available over the last decade or so.
    One of the promises of this technology is to use idle batteries as load levelers which is valuable to compensate for intermittent supply sources such as wind.

  • avatar

    I must be confused. If my car is powering my house from its batteries, doesn’t that mean that the battery won’t be fully charged when I drive away? What would be the benefit of THAT?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      dwford: Thanks. I was going to ask the same question.

    • 0 avatar

      The benefit of it is that you can balance the load on whatever source you have.  This is mostly discussed with things like distributed solar at your house.  So you’ve got solar panels producing during the day, making more electricity than you need at the time.  The car stores it, and then you can use it later in the evening when you’re not getting solar generation, but the prices are still higher.  Then the car can top off using the cheapest electricity rate in the deep night.
      Same kind of thing with wind generation.
      Or, if just using it off the power grid, you can charge the car overnight, drive it during the day, (but not empty), and the car will buffer some electricity usage in the evening and night, then recharge again fully overnight.

    • 0 avatar

      So you’ve got solar panels producing during the day, making more electricity than you need at the time.  The car stores it.

      That’s assuming that the car is there all day to store electricity. Most cars, it seems, are not.

    • 0 avatar

      Your neighbor’s car might be connected to the grid, and wanting electricity.
      “Vehicle to grid” really strikes me as dumb.  Electric vehicles do have value to stabilizing a grid, because they are even more comfortable with intermittent power than an AC unit is.  Don’t oversell it, guys.

  • avatar

    If they ever start putting BloomEnergy’s ( fuel cells into cars, this might make sense. Bloom’s fuel cells run off of natural gas, so you could just hook your homes natural gas line into the car and have an electric feed from the car to the house. Just make real, real, sure you disconnect the gas hose before you drive away.

  • avatar

    If I’m buying a Leaf for $25k, it won’t be sitting around much with nothing to do.

    I get the load-leveling thing – that’s a real problem for peaky power sources – but the development would be better spent on stationary batteries dedicated for that purpose.  These people forget that drivers expect their cars to run upon command, without thinking about which way the electricity has been flowing lately.

    Besides, one way load-leveling is accomplished today is by pumping water uphill into reservoirs, then permitting it to flow out into hydroelectric generators when needed.

  • avatar

    The life of the battery is likely partly dependent on the number of charge/discharge cycles.  Allowing the electric utility to extract power from the battery would increase the number of charge/discharge cycles and, likely, shorten the life of the battery.

    Will this void the warranty?

    qslippy, I tend to agree with you, some form of stationary storage makes more sense.  Whether or not it’s economical quite yet… that’s unlikely.. but we’ll get there.

    Demand shaping can save utilities quite a lot of money… which we’d like to see passed along to consumers.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t get too excited about this (although I’m sure the greenies will). Japan is a small country with a high population density. This makes their extensive public transportation system practical. EVs won’t work in Wyoming.
    In the 1980s, the Japanese were supposed to become the dominant industrial and financial power on the planet. In the field of electronics, they developed analog HD television and were supposed to be close to artificial intelligence. Television is now digital, not analog, and artificial intelligence is still under development.

  • avatar

    I don’t think it is the greatest idea for the reason that the (expensive) battery life shortens and that I expect my 40-mil radius car to be full of juice at any time and not only half full.
    The part I don’t understand, why is that labeled as news? I don’t know about Japan, but every US electric utility talks about that option already as part of the smart grid. I’m sure Japanese talked about that for a long time too and it is just one idea how to deal with peak power since many expensive power plants need to be built just for some hours a year.
    From news I expect something new that I didn’t know 3 years ago. Oh, really the microprocessor is invented? And there is an internet?? Really?

    • 0 avatar

      every US electric utility talks about that option already as part of the smart grid.

      Yes, they talk about it. The news here is that Hitachi, Nissan and Orix are doing something. Doing, not talking. Big difference.

    • 0 avatar

      they are not doing more than experimenting.. and the utilities have trial systems too. most anyway.
      this news doesn’t say anything about anything actually being done, but that they “will” work on this. Like I will work on my 3 PhDs and will pay off my debt….  I doesn’t mean i actually do any of that.
      Talking about this sure is every car- and battery manufacturer and every utility nowadays. And talk is all the news describes.

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