The Nissan Leaf, heralded as the first all-electric production car, has yet another neat trick up its sleeve. Just unveiled in Japan, the car’s charger can send the battery’s stored electricity back to the grid. Nissan claims its 24kWh battery can power a typical Japanese house for two days, adding short term energy autonomy for a family when the power goes out. Even more impressive, the technology could be a key component in smart grid implementation, smoothing out the production and consumption of clean electricity.

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The large Li-Ion power pack used to propel the Leaf is currently charged by a kind of one-way valve; AC is converted to DC to charge the battery. The ability to convert that stored DC back into AC and put it onto the grid is a very common technology, most notably seen when a solar panel’s DC output is inverted to grid-friendly AC.

The new charger will be able to do the same thing, only using plentiful and cheap night time grid electricity to charge the battery. Leaf owners will be able to profit from charging the battery at night when electricity rates are at their lowest, then selling the power back during peak hours when demand spikes. The car can also act as a back-up power supply when the grid is down.

The extraordinary aspect of this technology is how a clean energy smart grid could leverage the storage capacity of electrics car en mass. Utilities could sell intermittent wind and solar electricity to car owners, and buy the electricity back when energy demand calls for it. The technology can smooth out power fluctuations and significantly reduce reliance on carbon fuel sources to meet peak demand — all the while offering owners an incentive, by paying them for the energy.

Nissan expects to have the charger on the market by April of next year.

Via IT World