By on October 23, 2018

With governments everywhere attempting to reduce powerplant emissions while simultaneously moving the teeming masses out of ICE vehicles and into electric cars, an energy brick wall quickly approaches. You’re faced with a situation where more people are drawing more power from the grid, but — for environmental or financial reasons — generating more power is out of the question.

In Germany, one solution is to get those EV drivers to stop what they’re doing and plug back into the grid, allowing the contents of their just-filled batteries to flow back into the plug it came from. Goodbye, brownouts. Possibly. If the solution seems odd and potentially self-defeating, it is, but the country’s government just approved the Nissan Leaf for exactly this use.

As reported by Reuters (via Automotive News Europe), the German government’s thumbs-up makes the Leaf the first EV approved for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power generation. To make the system viable, Leaf owners would have to utilize a wall charger capable of reversing the flow of current, drawing the car’s power back into the grid.

“We strongly believe in an emission-free future,” Guillaume Pelletreau, Vice President and Managing Director of Nissan Center Europe, said in a statement. “Leaf batteries could make an important contribution to energy transition in Germany and a sustainable future.”

The UK, as well as other European countries, began examining this type of system years ago. Currently, a UK government-backed 2-year pilot project is examining the feasibility of such a setup. It also uses Nissan Leafs. The pilot shows how car owners would be compensated for having strangers tap into their car’s juice, though this method only seems to work if the car owners are also homeowners.

How exactly Germany plans to compensate the Leaf owners isn’t immediately clear. Calling on Leafs and other electric vehicles to be pressed into service as mobile power stations during periods of high energy use is a novel idea, but owners won’t feel compelled to do it unless a different type of green flows into their wallets. While EV owners talk a good game about helping their fellow man, no one likes feeling like a chump.

[Image: Nissan]

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22 Comments on “Germans Poised to Earn Money by Owning a Nissan Leaf...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Great, so now Leaf batteries can degrade twice as fast as normal, and drivers will be left with empty tanks sometimes.

    The only way I would use an EV battery in reverse would be for my own house, in an emergency – not on the grid.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      It just may be technologically possible to manage the discharge at a low rate and within the sweet spot where batteries most harmlessly charge and discharge. Presumably people are smart enough and the system is sophisticated enough to anticipate further limiting discharge. The compensation paid to owners could include a component for the resulting minimal battery degradation. The entire point of battery technology is for energy storage and provision, so why not use the growing pool of batteries in ev’s to smooth power demand and generation?

      • 0 avatar
        sgtjmack

        Uhm… no. Charging and discharging batteries is going to degrade the capability of the battery every time it happens.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          “Uhm… no. Charging and discharging batteries is going to degrade the capability of the battery every time it happens.”

          Reading comprehension failure. I never said anything like denying that charging and discharging a battery shortens its life. I did say that batteries exist for the purpose of being charged and discharged, and that batteries can be managed to extend their life.

  • avatar
    vvk

    This is one of the biggest lost opportunities. The demand for V2G is enormous, especially in places like California. Everybody could realize huge benefits — utilities, consumers, EV owners.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Because charging, discharging, down and up transforming, and transmission losses both ways are such an efficient way of performing a simple task that was perfected almost a century ago?

      Enough self sufficiency at each end point to allow for bypassing the highline acts required to increase uptime from 99% to 99.99% may just make some form of sense. But the rest of this is just more of the same officially sponsored wealth transfers from those actually engaged in doing the hard work of making and distributing power, to self promoting halfwits “investing” in politically en vogue children’s fairy tales.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Shut down all the nuclear power plants! Wow that felt great! Wait what do you mean they all want electric cars now?

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    I assume “peak demand” is during the daytime. Might be a bit awkward if I decide to go out for lunch or leave work early. And isn’t this going to lead to a spike in demand in the later afternoon?

  • avatar
    NL

    In California, peak electrical demand coincides with evening commute, as the sun goes down and solar electricity production wanes. Just how is this supposed to work?

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Those crazy Germans – subsidize wind and solar, close nuclear plants, realize solar and wind are unreliable, build new coal plants, and everyone pays triple what Americans pay for electricity – yet greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Now they subsidize German citizens to buy electric cars and then subsidize them not use the vehicles for transportation, but to store electricity from the unreliable solar and wind – all paid for by only another small extra charge to German electricity customers. No wonder they can’t afford to pay their NATO bills for protection against Russia – whom they buy natural gas from. This German political devotion to the purity of the green cause reminds me of another German politician who also had strong convictions on the righteousness of his cause and a strong desire for various gases. He decided to invade Russia, where his troops were greeted as liberators, but his desire for racial purity led him to kill the local populations of Slavs and Jews, after which he wondered why he was getting such little production from the captured lands. Like I said – those crazy Germans – you never know what they are going to do, but when they decide to do it they go all in.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      The new coal power plants are the most deliciously ironic part of their green binge.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Renewables were so effective in Germany that the powerful coal interests fought back through their political control. This is temporary and has nothing to do with the technical merits of renewables.

      More selected reading for you:

      https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/germany-clean-energy-superpower?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=CRinGR

      https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/renewable-energy-germany-six-months-year-solar-power-wind-farms-a8427356.html

      https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/coal-germany

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-10/german-wind-and-solar-power-beat-coal-generation-for-first-time?utm_content=business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_source=twitter&cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_medium=social

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      stingray65: Yes, of course – Europeans will realize the “Genius” of some Americans – that there is no manmade climate change; that the melting glaciers, submerging shorelines and islands worldwide, ever-hotter average global temperatures, and the proven capacity of fossil-fuel waste gases to retain heat – are all lib’ral meadier lies. Why, we’s all gon’ ree-turn to the ’50s, with Elvis, landlines, V8 Fords for all Real Americans, yee-heeyew! Us old codgers gon’ live fur-evur!

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      “…He decided to invade Russia, where his troops were greeted as liberators,”

      Make two small changes to this statement and it becomes truth (swap ‘USSR’ for ‘Russia’ and add the words ‘by some’ to the end).

      Without those changes it’s just another example of mangling history to make a BS political point (that there is an equivalence between the Nazi regime and a democratically-elected German government). Yes, a bunch of Ukranians (note that the Ukraine is not ‘Russia’) were happy to put on their version of SS uniforms and kill their neighbors, but a large number of their countrymen didn’t see this as an improvement.

  • avatar

    I would not care because Europeans normally make a wrong decisions. E.g. Airbus A380 (vs Dreamliner), Concord, Diesel cars, metric system – how much more convenient is 18” vs 0.4572 m (this one is a joke). So if I have Leaf it will get discharged before morning commute? Who came up with this dumb idea.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Look, it would not be a moon launch to set up the system to limit discharge depending on individual circumstances. Ever seen a programmable thermostat?

      Would you say the train system in Europe is a mistake?

  • avatar
    Zipster

    Stingray:

    I don’t disagree with your reasoning and the examples you provide to support it, but I do find it somewhat ironic that you would use Hitler in this argument when you (if I recall correctly) have been an enthusiastic supporter of the present administration. My apologies in advance if I am wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Zipster – if you think Trump and Hitler are similar you don’t know anything about history and/or are watching too much CNN. Hitler enacted National Socialism, which means heavy taxes, heavy regulation (defacto govt control of the economy), socialized medicine and education, government control of the media, and outlawed political opposition. VW and the Silver Arrow GP cars were all Nazi funded projects. On a personal level, Hitler had no children, was a vegetarian and drug addict, and hated Jews. Trump wants lower taxes, less regulation (defacto capitalism), less government interference in healthcare and education, and while he criticizes the bias of the press – the fact that they continue to criticize him non-stop would suggest he does not control what they write. It also appears that the Democrats are still in business, so apparently he hasn’t outlawed political opposition. On a personal level, Trump has 5 children, likes burgers, doesn’t drink or take drugs, and has a Jewish son-in-law (and Jewish convert daughter). So how exactly are they similar?

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    V2G would be an interesting idea in places where extremes of climate and geography are leading to accidental or deliberate brownouts on a regular basis. The ol’ fires, floods, n’ mudlsides trio. Of course, if your neighborhood is browned out, it’s probably in an evacuation zone, so you and your EV are probably both long gone from your garage.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Electricity Distribution systems vary widely by country. Canada/US are similar with the notable exception of New York City, but Britain operates on a different ring main system from local transformers, with both them and wiring underground except in really rural areas, where their version of overhead is primitive. Don’t know about Germany. And no, I’m not talking about high voltage transmission, just distribution at lower voltages from substations.

    Having random houses and or small hydro producers wanting to feed back into the grid here required some thought as to what backfeeding voltage into downed lines does for the safety of linemen out repairing damage after a storm. A home generator trying to power several hundred homes on a suburban line back to the fault will just cough and die, because it cannot support the load – a toaster will make small units moan, and an electric water heater will stop it. But every situation is different and the average citizen’s understanding of how the system works is somewhere between zero and minus 11. Hence the need to isolate a home with a generator from the local system in dire circumstances and the squawks from homeowners at the expense of installing such disconnect equipment was fierce. Now there are solar-powered houses everywhere and things are standardized.

    Voltage support for brownouts is another matter. On the face of it, it all seems lovely, but a few then maybe a plethora of EVs trying to support the local grid becomes an operational issue unless the grid is undamaged. Then how the backfeed is controlled so as to not discharge a battery too rapidly has to be taken into account. Perhaps the Germans have all this figured out. Using a giant 290,000 kWh battery such as Tesla supplied to the obviously incompetently-planned South Australia Electricity authority’s system is much easier to operate than a bunch of pipsqueak batteries randomly located.

    On the face of it, it would seem more logical for the EV to just power the residence of the vehicle’s owner under brownout conditions, and be isolated from the local grid. If enough homes and their associated loads are removed from the grid, the lower power/load requirement from the grid will automatically raise brownout voltage levels locally for the remainder of the customers.

    Who knows what they’re thinking in Germany … Whoever wrote that the ratty efficiency of changing AC to DC to charge a battery then the other way around to support voltage under brownout, wasn’t wrong. It’s like everyone has decided to use what was once regarded as a technically pure but expensive source of energy to instead become the prime mover of future society. And all the jumping up and down about wind and solar replacing base-load thermal plants because it can generate energy cheaply when it is actually windy or sunny, overlooks the need for 24/7 electrical power supply, and large industrial loads.

    General knowledge for how an electrical supply system actually works is, as I said, somewhere between zero and minus 11. People disregard any reason but what suits them personally, and cannot or will not grasp the wider implications, tossing them into the garbage can of irrelevancy so far as they’re concerned. The rugged individualism approach is useless for the power distribution system, no matter what the logic of its propounders, whether propelled by political views or blue-sky dreaming. After all, the average person thinks that if they live next to a hydro dam that somehow their energy comes from there, directed by magical forces that have about zero to do with an interconnected alternating current electrical supply grid. Then we have politicians who are of course, those all-knowing intellects who try to inject their expertise on technical matters attempting to muscle reality into their limited horizons of experiential thinking.

    Sure, everyone’s a techno marvel these days, if running an app on a smartphone makes you an Einstein. Or a Tesla, the real one.

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