Electric cars copped criticism at the 2019 federal election as the prime minister Scott Morrison and minister Michaelia Cash claimed Labor’s proposal to mandate 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030 was an attack on tradies.
While Morrison and Cash may have been referring to a (wildly incorrect) perception about driving range and the ability to charge quickly, the fact is that electric cars are already proving useful for those needing a mobile source of power for tools – such as tradies or in this case, disaster recovery workers.
This week Nissan has highlighted how Japan is dealing with disaster with the help of the two-way battery in its Leaf electric car that can both store and discharge energy, by allowing relief workers to power vital electrical tools and devices they need to assist in recovery.
The “vehicle-to-x” (V2X) capabilities of the Nissan Leaf electric car is already being used in various trials currently underway in Australia to test V2G (vehicle-to-grid) and V2H (vehicle-to-home) technology, from this AGL trial, this Energy Queensland to this ANU trial in Canberra.
Japan has been using this technology now for some time. It’s even received an award for the role it has played in disaster relief.
Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan in October 2019, less than six months after the Japanese car maker launched its Blue Switch project to promote the use of bidirectional electric cars, that can use their batteries to drive as well as power tools, in disaster recovery.
Nissan reports that its Leaf has proven useful during the disaster recovery, allowing volunteers assisting in the recovery to power tools, kettles and even photo-copier machines.
“It can charge tools, like an impact driver or a circular saw, which we use to remove walls or floors damaged by the flood,” says Ryosho Hara, who worked to help people affected by Typhoon Hagibis.
“Without electricity, we can’t do anything,” said Hara. “So (the Leaf) is very helpful.”
Nissan says to ensure it can provide Leafs in a timely manner when disaster strikes, it has inked 100 agreements with Japanese local governments and companies – 75 of which relate directly to making sure its electric vehicles can get straight to work when needed.
“During those critical first hours and days, the electric vehicles can move around disaster areas and deliver power where it’s needed most. With no exhaust fumes and completely silent, a Leaf can be parked inside a building. It can recharge where the power supply has been restored, and then drive on to another hard-hit region,” Nissan said in a release.
When Typhoon Faxai hit in September 2019, the local Chiba prefecture council near Tokyo was able to drive the Leaf to help people who needed power.
“We’re using the technology now, for real solutions, to meet immediate needs,” says Asako Hoshino, executive VP at Nissan and chair of the company’s management committee for Japan and ASEAN.
According to Nissan, the 62kWh battery in the Leaf e+ (which will be launched in Australia in 2021) can store enough energy to power an average Japanese home for up to four days, or charge 6,200 mobile phones.
In fact, the company says it has enough Nissan Leaf batteries driving out on roads to day to power half a million Japanese households for a full day.
The Japanese car maker says it has a wider plan to “create a new “EV ecosystem,” where cars store and share power with homes, businesses and the wider grid, not only during emergencies but every day.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.