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Nissan works on recharging Leaf with solar power

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Japanese automaker Nissan is testing a super-green way to recharge its Leaf electric vehicle using solar power, part of a broader drive to improve electricity storage systems.

Nissan's Leaf went on sale late last year, but the automaker is looking ahead to about five years time when aging Leaf vehicles may offer alternative business opportunities in using their lithium-ion batteries as a storage place for electricity.

Nissan Motor Corp. acknowledges that, once the Leaf catches on, a flood of used batteries could result as the life span of a battery is longer than an electric vehicle's.

Electricity generation and storage are drawing attention in Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused massive blackouts in the country's northeast. A nuclear power plant that went into meltdown, Fukushima Dai-ichi, after backup generators were destroyed by the tsunami, is also renewing fears about a power crunch.

In the new charging system, demonstrated to reporters Monday, electricity is generated through 488 solar cells installed on the roof of the Nissan headquarters building in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo.