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Toyota Camry Hybrid batteries get second life at Yellowstone

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Toyota Hybrid Battery Power Storage system infographic

Toyota has been using Prius hybrid batteries that are no longer useful for automobiles to instead provide auxiliary power for its dealerships in Japan during times of peak demand. In a similar idea, Toyota Camry Hybrid batteries will be used at a Yellowstone National Park field campus to provide solar-generated, off-the-grid power. (Photo courtesy Toyota)

This is a subject we’ve discussed before: Hybrid and EV battery packs still have immense potential for use after they’re no longer viable to power a car. The latest example of this theory in action: Toyota Camry Hybrid batteries will be used in a solar setup that will provide power to Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park.

A press release from Toyota said the stationary distributed energy system will feature 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs and a total storage capacity of 85 kWh. The automaker described that as “more than enough” electricity to power the five buildings on the field campus.

Here’s how it’ll work, according to Toyota:

Solar panels and onsite micro-hydro turbine systems will generate the renewable electricity stored within the battery packs, creating a sustainable, off-the-grid power source for one of the most remote and pristine places in the U.S.  Scheduled for installation this fall, the state-of-the-art system will create no emissions in generation, storage or distribution of power for the campus.

The release said the reuse of hybrid batteries is expected to double their useful lifespans before being recycled. It also pointed out that Toyota has been researching a similar project to the one planned for Yellowstone at its own factory in Alabama. In addition, the automaker said its dealerships in Japan have been reusing hybrid batteries to provide an extra boost during peak power situations since 2013.

As for the setup at Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus, Toyota said it would reveal more details when the “switch” is “flipped” this fall. We’ll be watching for those details. Many of us have some degree of desire to go “off the grid” when it comes to electricity use — your humble author included. Or at the very least, one could imagine hybrid and EV batteries getting reused in solar energy capture systems that could be used like a conventional generator during periods of peak demand or power outages at the individual home level.

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