By Ameya Paleja
(featured image) A typical setup of Toyota’s energy storage solution)
The world-famous carmaker Toyota has launched a battery-based energy storage system for home use in Japan, according to a company press release. The company is confident that the energy storage system can offer ‘peace of mind’ to customers in terms of performance, safety, and value for money.
Homeowners who live ‘off-the-grid’ or are looking to expedite the transition to renewable energy need a reliable battery storage system. Even as research enables more efficient renewable energy generation systems, the problems of irregularity in supply are likely to remain. It would take decades of research until we figured out how to access solar energy, in spite of the Earth’s rotation. Until then, energy storage devices will be needed to tide over the irregularity.
Learnings from electric vehicles
The push for electrified transportation, primarily cars, has led to many innovations in battery storage technologies. As car owners look for higher range, faster charging times, and lighter battery packs, we are not only seeing upgrades to battery technologies but also their deployment in other industries.
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With the recently launched energy storage system, Toyota is also diversifying the applications of the battery technology it is using in its electric vehicles. The company calls it the O-Uchi Kyuden System and has provided a sample configuration for typical home use.
The energy storage system
Central to the setup is the 313-pound (142 kg) battery pack which has a rated capacity of 8.7 kWh. This can be connected to photovoltaic panels, which will use a DC-DC converter to store the energy produced using sunlight. A typical house setup will also feature a hybrid power conditioner that can switch between the stored energy, energy from the panels, or from the grid, as desired.
The energy storage solution from Toyota
As with energy storage solutions, Toyota’s system also comes with the necessary setup to charge an electric vehicle. However, it also features a vehicle-to-home charging option in case of an unfortunate event like a natural disaster. Toyota claims that its specially provided charger can work with all types of electrified vehicles, whether powered by fuel cells or by batteries.
The hybrid power conditioner can also be connected to a wireless router online. Doing so will enable the user to view operation modes, storage capacity, and other settings via a mobile app, the press release said.
How does it compare with Tesla’s Powerwall?
While details are still scant, the system is quite comparable to the Powerwall. Weightwise, both the systems are near about the same. However, from the image released, Toyota’s battery pack sits on the ground, while the Powerwall can adorn a wall. Tesla also claims a higher output on its Powerwall.
We do not know the pricing point of Toyota’s system and the company has only begun to accept orders in Japan as of now. Deliveries for these energy storage systems will start in August this year.
Enthusiasts in the U.S. will probably have to wait much longer to see a Toyota storage system in their homes.(Interesting Engineering, Toyota)