The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park now has round-the-clock electric power and lights thanks to an energy system that combines solar power generation with recycled Toyota Camry Hybrid battery packs. The combination of the two makes a reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the National Park Service ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907.

The partnership amongst Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an 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.

The Solar panels are used to 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.”

This energy system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. In case you were wondering just exactly how used batteries would work after being used; the battery packs are disassembled and tested first. Once tested every piece that can be used is repurposed. New components were also built and designed to maximize battery life. 

“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.

According to Toyota, 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 work with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation. Toyota has also provided hybrid vehicles to support park operations, and green building expertise as well as financial backing for the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center which opened in 2010.