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Nissan to give lithium-ion batteries a ‘second life’

Green R&D news – by GreenWise staff
12th September 2011
Japanese carmaker Nissan is planning to use old batteries used to power its LEAF electric car to store energy from the sun.
Nissan said it is working with Sumitomo Corporation to test a large-scale demonstration of renewable generation and battery storage using Nissan LEAF lithium-ion batteries. The joint venture, called 4R Energy, has begun tests using solar panels and second-life LEAF batteries at Nissan’s headquarters in Japan.

Storing solar energy
Solar panels cannot store energy from the sun and EV batteries offer the potential to store excess energy generated by solar and then release it when the sun isn’t shining, such as at night. Nissan says a fully charged LEAF battery holds around 24 kilowatts – enough energy to power a three-bedroom home for around three days. 

There are seven charging stations connected to the solar grid at Nissan’s HQ. The company said the total electricity that can be generated and stored was the equivalent to an annual reduction of 15.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions or fully charging approximately 1,800 Nissan LEAFs in a year. 

Environmental impact
Nissan, which is investing £200 million in an advanced lithium-ion battery plant in the North East of England and is manufacturing the LEAF at its Sunderland plant, is hoping its latest research will allay concerns about the impact on the environment of its LEAF batteries when they reach the end of their life. Concerns have been raised about the disposal of lithium-ion batteries, which contain hazardous heavy metals and need to be replaced after just a few years. 

Nissan said the solar energy stored in its second-generation batteries could be used to charge electric vehicles – bringing the life of the battery full circle.

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