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Nissan Ensures Melilla Has Enough Backup Power With 78 LEAF Battery Packs

If you have never heard about Melilla, you are not alone. This is one of the two autonomous cities belonging to Spain, although they are in Africa – the other is Ceuta. The entire city depends on an Endesa thermal power station to provide electricity to its 90,000 residents. If anything went sour with the plant, the city would be in the dark. To prevent that, Nissan provided 78 LEAF battery packs as a massive power bank to the town.
Nissan puts 78 LEAF battery packs (30 of them new ones) to provide grid safety to Melilla 15 photos
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The project is called “Second Life,” and it was announced in 2018. It has apparently taken Nissan and Enel almost six years to complete it. Of these 78 battery packs, 48 are used, and 30 are new units. They deliver a total of 4 MW.

If the Endesa thermal power plant is disconnected from the system for any reason, the Second Life project can provide up to 1.7 MWh of energy to Meilla’s grid. What surprised us is how short this power supply can be: 15 minutes. According to Enel, this is more than enough time for the system to be resent and the thermal power plant to get back to work.

While the idea seemed great when it was first announced, it also puts into perspective what LEAF owners have been dealing with for quite some time. Let’s start by asking what a battery pack unfit for automotive use would be.

It is often said that any battery pack that drops below 70% of capacity is no longer fit for use and should be replaced. Unfortunately, several LEAF owners use their battery packs until well below that capacity. One example is Sal Cameli, who goes through a proper ritual to charge his car at home, as you can see in the video below.

Cameli bought his Nissan LEAF SL on April 20, 2013, as a brand new car. In September 2020, when I last spoke to him, his car had more than 82,000 miles and a range of only 35 miles (56 kilometers) at 40 mph (64 kph) or 30 mi (48 km) at 60 mph (97 kph). To help his fellow LEAF owners, Cameli created a map with companies that replace LEAF battery packs. Until December 31, 2021, 42 companies worldwide were listed on his map.

That happens because LEAF battery packs are very expensive to replace. In some places, like the Virgin Islands, Nissan charges $35,000 for a new unit, a price that is much higher than that of a new LEAF. Either the owners drive them with very reduced ranges – as Cameli does – or they just sell their EVs as junkyard material.

The fact that 30 of the 78 battery packs Nissan sent to Melilla are new shows this is more of a marketing stunt than a natural use of second-life battery packs to help ensure grid stability anywhere. Nissan would do better trying to give LEAF owners like Cameli affordable battery pack replacements. May we write about that soon.

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Editor's note: The gallery contains images of the Nissan LEAF.

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