New Nissan System Charges Electric Cars with Solar Power

The Japanese automaker, Nissan, has developed a charging system that generates electricity from solar power and stores it in the lithium-ion batteries used in
Nissan Leaf
Getty Images
The Nissan Leaf
its Leaf electric car. On the roof of its global headquarters in Yokohama, the company has installed 488 solar panels, which generate electricity that is then stored in four Leaf batteries installed in the basement; power from the four batteries is sufficient to power 1,800 Leafs annually. As part of a joint venture with Sumitomo Corp., Nissan aims to refabricate and re-sell the Leaf batteries for power storage as the electric vehicles are traded in or junked in years to come. “These batteries can be useful as back-up power for homes when there’s an outage,” said Takashi Sakagami, head of the joint venture, known as 4R Energy Corp. Other Japanese automakers, including Toyota and Honda, are also developing systems to link solar panels with car charging stations as the nation increasingly eyes new solutions to energy generation and storage in the aftermath of the blackouts triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.