The company's Sweep Energy Storage System is simply brilliant.
In the last few months, Toyota has been chastised by various environmental groups for not adopting electric vehicles quickly enough. While it may have fallen behind the competition, the Japanese automaker believes there are many ways to skin a cat, and has embarked on various earth-saving endeavors.
The latest is rather brilliant and has the ability to change the way we look at energy storage in the future. Together with energy supplier Jera, Toyota has created the world's first large-volume energy storage system. The Sweep Energy Storage System is in operation and cleverly uses old batteries from electrified Toyota vehicles.
The system uses batteries from regular hybrids like the Prius, plug-in hybrids such as the RAV4 Prime, and EVs like the bZ4X to store excess energy when it's not needed. The battery storage system plays a big role in the ever-expanding renewable energy sector. On windy or sunny days, for example, the Sweep Energy Storage System amasses electricity that can be used at a later date.
Kia has launched something similar, albeit on a smaller scale. Recycled EV batteries are being utilized by a German railway company for green energy storage. The repurposed lithium-ion batteries can store and supply power, that can be used to power train and maintenance depots.
But Toyota's solution goes one step further. Where Kia has to recycle battery modules that don't make the cut, the Sweep Energy Storage System can use vehicle batteries regardless of their available capacity. Toyota explains that, by switching the current flow on and off, the "energy discharge can be freely controlled in microseconds using batteries connected in series."
Another operation - referred to as the wobble function - allows for direct alternating current output from the batteries, "avoiding power losses due to the conversion from alternating current to direct current." The automaker notes the entire system will help promote a stable power supply while reducing CO2 emissions.
The end result is nothing short of impressive. Toyota says that by the middle of the decade, the now-commissioned energy storage system will feed around 100,000 kWh of electricity into the public grid.
The company's partner, Jera, is also looking into developing a sustainable recycling process for lithium-ion batteries.
Other automotive brands have embarked on similar projects. Audi, for example, is using recycled vehicle batteries to power electric rickshaws in India. Elsewhere, the Ingolstadt-based brand also makes use of recycled batteries at some charging stations, where they serve as an eco-friendly energy storage solution.