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Toyota Flips the Switch to Sustainable Power at Yellowstone National Park

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The lights are on where the buffalo roam.

At Yellowstone National Park, solar panels generate renewable electricity stored within 208 used Toy

At Yellowstone National Park, solar panels generate renewable electricity stored within 208 used Toyota Camry Hybrid battery packs. (Photo: Business Wire)

At the Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs is now online. The result: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” said Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Hybrid batteries typically reach the end of their usable life in automobile-grade applications with significant remaining power storage capacity. While Toyota has a robust hybrid battery recycling program in place, the Yellowstone project reflects ongoing efforts to extend the life of existing hybrid batteries. Engineers expect this type of use to double the overall lifespan of the hybrid batteries.

The Lamar Buffalo Ranch project is just part of Toyota’s extensive work with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, including providing hybrid vehicles to support park operations, and green building expertise and financial backing for the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, which opened in 2010.

“As exemplified by the Lamar Buffalo Ranch project, Toyota’s mission-driven philanthropic focus and expertise in sustainability will make a difference in Yellowstone for generations to come,” said Karen Bates Kress, president of the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

To learn more about Yellowstone National Park sustainability initiatives please visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/sustainability-contents.htm.

Details on the Yellowstone National Park Sustainability Project Energy Storage and Management System

  • Power Generation: 40kW solar system producing ~67,900 kwH annually.
    (40kW propane backup generator onsite for emergency use only)
  • Storage Array: 208 repackaged battery packs, each internally re-wired in parallel and arranged in series in four arrays of 52. Each array provides a nominal 375 volts. Total storage capacity of 85kwH.
  • Power Management: Indy Power Systems’ Energy RouterTM manages and optimizes generation and use of energy between solar energy, battery storage, and/or propane generators (if emergency generator is needed).

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) , the world’s top automaker and creator of the Prius and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. Over the past 50 years, we’ve built more than 25 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 42,000 people (more than 33,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (1,500 in the U.S.) sold more than 2.67 million cars and trucks (more than 2.35 million in the U.S.) in 2014 – and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today.

Toyota partners with philanthropic organizations across the country, with a focus on education, safety and the environment. As part of this commitment, we share the company’s extensive know-how garnered from building great cars and trucks to help community organizations and other nonprofits expand their ability to do good. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.

About the Yellowstone Park Foundation:

The Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF) has more than 20,000 individuals, corporations and foundations that donate to YPF each year, and has served as Yellowstone National Park’s official fundraising partner since 1996. Its mission is to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, and the visitor experience of the Park. YPF has raised more than $85 million, and funded more than 300 important projects and initiatives since its inception that include wildlife research, cutthroat trout restoration, trail maintenance, and youth education. For more information, please go to www.ypf.org.

About Yellowstone National Park:

Yellowstone National Park is home to the majority of the world’s geysers, the main reason it was established as the world’s first national park in 1872. This wild, mountainous, 2.2 million acre expanse is home to grizzly bears, wolves, bison, elk, numerous rivers, lakes and waterfalls, and the magnificent Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

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