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The Future: Cars and Households Powered Purely by Sunlight



Nissan Leafs are electrical cars that were out in the market last year. They produce zero emissions and run only on electricity.

Today, it has been reported that Nissan has joint forces with Sumitomo Corp, 4R Energy Corporation, to test a way to recharge the lithium-ion Leaf batteries with solar power. This is part of a drive to find alternative ways to generate and store renewable energy.

“If we can utilize the renewable energy on the electricity side, [the Leaf] would really be zero emissions,” Hideaki Watanabe, Nissan’s Corporate Vice President for Global Zero Emission said. “That’s why we’re using a solar panel, which is totally renewable energy connected to the battery, connected to the charging spot, connected to the Nissan Leaf.”

Photovoltaic panels have been placed on Nissan’s Yokohama headquarters, to harness power from the sun. Four Leaf batteries have been connected to these panels to store generated electricity, and have seven charging spots connected to them.

According to Nissan, in the new charging system, these 488 solar cells generate enough electricity to fully charge about 1,800 Leaf vehicles a year. This could help to reduce up to 15.4 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

Used batteries of the Leaf outlast the vehicles themselves, and can still store up to 80 per cent electricity—making the batteries effective storages for energy. To add to that positive note, the Leaf’s battery can store enough electricity to power a household for two days, Nissan said.

Even though research and findings have been promising, cost is still an issue to be solved. Nissan and 4R have mentioned that the batteries, as well as electric vehicles, are expensive.

But if successful in the years to come, clean and pollution-free electrical vehicles, and electricity storage systems could be the future—and today’s sunlight could be tomorrow’s energy source.

Nissan hopes to be able to start selling electricity storage systems for homes by April 2012.







[via Yahoo! News and Nissan]
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