Nissan is helping a town ravaged by the 2011 tsunami rebuild by giving them old Nissan Leaf batteries.
OK, they’re not just giving them batteries. They’re also attaching them to LEDs with solar panels on top so they can be reborn as street lamps.
Namie is a small town in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan that was devastated by the earthquake/tsunami combo of March 11, 2011. Fukushima might be a name that’s familiar to you since it was the Fukushima nuclear power plant that subsequently melted down and contaminated the town with radiation.
Following the tsunami, the town was completely evacuated and the population dropped to zero. Since then, that population hasn’t rebounded at all despite the fact the government has lifted radiation warnings barring people from accessing the town.
So, Namie is a ghost town where few people want to tread, and absolutely nobody wants to stay. This makes it difficult for certain things to get done, like, say, fixing all those busted street lamps.
Nissan has a problem: the Nissan Leaf, the company’s first electric car, was introduced in 2010 and some of them are approaching their end-of-life. Even if the car is mechanically sound, the lithium-ion battery packs those cars originally came with are almost certainly suffering some degradation inherent to the technology after being charged and discharged for eight years.
But you can’t toss those batteries into a landfill—they’re full of dangerous chemicals. You can recycle parts of it, and Japan is, in fact, a leading example for the rest of the world in such recycling programs, but most of those components aren’t recoverable. So what do you do?
Well, according to Autoblog, Nissan took the old battery pack out, stick it into a strange question mark-lookin’ device, slap a solar panel on top, and call it a street lamp. Win-win.
Nissan will team up with 4R Energy Corporation, a Japanese utility provider, to start installing these street lamps all around Namie. The project is called “The Reborn Light”, and in typical Nissan fashion, they make it sound pretty frickin’ grand.
For a town that’s still abandoned nearly a decade later, it’s going to make things seem just a little bit more livable. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll convince people that Namie isn’t a town that should be abandoned forever.