Yogi the Bear and the visitors to the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone National Park will no longer have to hear or smell electric generators. Re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs are storing power from the sun for the facility.
Previously, there was no commercial source of power for the ranger station and educational center. Solar panels now generate the electricity stored in 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States. The batteries were tested and configured with onboard battery management systems for each battery pack.
The zero-emission solar system generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, enough for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, while the system charges and discharges. Each array provides a nominal 375 volts. The Indy Power Systems’ Energy Router manages and optimizes generation and use of energy between solar energy, battery storage, and/or propane generators (if emergency generator is needed).
Micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to also generate power.
Toyota claims that the Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. When hybrid batteries for cars are no longer strong enough to power the cars there is still plenty power storage capacity, left. The batteries were tested and configured with an onboard battery management system for each battery pack.
Toyota’s also provides hybrid vehicles to support park operations, and green building expertise and financial backing for the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, which opened in 2010.
Announced in June 2014, the partnership of Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation was formed to extend the life of hybrid vehicle batteries.