Toyota Enters Energy Storage Market by Launching Home Battery Product in Japan

Diving Brief:

  • Toyota is launching a 5.5 kWh residential battery storage system, which uses the company’s electric vehicle battery technology, the company announced on June 2. The small system can power a home day and night when connected to a rooftop photovoltaic system, encouraging solar installations, according to Toyota.
  • Owners with VE capable of two-way electricity flows can provide additional electricity to their homes, including during blackouts. The storage system’s vehicle-to-grid capabilities will also provide “balancing in locations where the grid system allows two-way charging,” providing power at “high power consumption times,” Toyota said in a statement. Press.
  • Initially, the storage system will only be sold in Japan. Whether Toyota will expand sales to other countries and become a serious competitor to Tesla remains to be seen, according to storage experts. The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Overview of the dive:

Sales of Toyota’s new home battery, the O-Uchi Kyuden system, to builders and general construction companies will begin in August, the company said. Toyota’s entry into this market is not surprising given earlier entries from Tesla, with its popular Powerwall, and other electric vehicle companies, such as BMW, according to storage experts.

“Toyota’s announcement is one more indication of a larger trend,” said Jason Burwen, vice president of energy storage for the American Clean Power Association. “Electric vehicle manufacturers see themselves not only as new players in the electric system, but also increasingly as new players in this system as suppliers of energy storage – whether by supplying battery systems directly to homeowners, businesses and utilities, or by allowing their vehicles to interact with building and power grid operations,” he added.

Toyota’s new distributed storage system uses its “many years of developing electrified vehicles as well as on-board parts and units”, the the company said. The system can be charged by solar panels and provide supplemental power from electricity stored in electric vehicle batteries, at 100 VAC, including when the lights go out, Toyota said.

What isn’t known is the price of the household battery or whether the company will be able to reuse EV batteries removed from its cars due to wear and tear from everyday driving. Although these discarded batteries do not hold a charge for as many miles as new ones, they have a substantial lifespan that is suitable for energy storage, according to the California Energy Commission. Typically, second-life batteries have around 70-80% of their power remaining, and energy storage is much less demanding on the batteries than driving, according to Studies commissioned by the CEC.

The number of discarded electric vehicle batteries is skyrocketing with increased purchases of electric cars and trucks and reusing them for storage would reduce the mountain of discarded batteries. But reuse comes with major challenges, mostly related to cost, Jim said. Greenberger, executive director of NAAT Batt Internationala non-profit trade association working to advance electrochemical energy storage technology for emerging high-tech applications.

“There is ultimately a cap on second-life batteries because of their recycling value,” which has increased with the war in Ukraine, he added.

Rising prices for nickel and cobalt, in particular, are leading to more battery recycling, as well as that of lithium, which is more difficult to extract. If it costs $100 to enable the reuse of EV batteries in a storage system, the company must earn more than $100 on reuse, Greenberger pointed out.

Also, reuse is more complex but that hasn’t stopped Toyota from supporting it. And if anyone can make second-life batteries economically viable, it’s Toyota and other major automakers. “Massive and repetitive reuse in the same application will reduce costs,” Greenberger added.

Pressure to reuse batteries is growing inside and outside Toyota. In January, China, a major market for Toyota, issued a series of guidelines aimed at developing battery reuse and recycling industries, Electrif reported. In May, Toyota Motors partnered in a fuel supply joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, to turn old batteries removed from electric and hybrid vehicles into energy storage systems to be combined primarily with facilities of renewable energy production.Nikkei Asia reported. And in 2018, Toyota and Chubu Electric Power Co. announcement an agreement to verify high-capacity storage battery systems that reuse and recycle Toyota batteries.

Toyota and other major electric vehicle companies not only have considerable ability to reduce the cost of reusing electric vehicle batteries, but they also tightly protect their battery proprietary information. Toyota’s use of its own second-life EV batteries could not only cut costs, but would prevent it from sharing its secret battery technology with startups and other companies working to reuse EV batteries for energy storage. energy, underlined Greenberger.