In cohorts with local government authorities, Toyota is rolling out a network of 21 solar powered charging stations at 11 locations across its home turf in Toyota City. The stations will be up and running, to feed a fleet of 20 Prius PHVs by April.
Each charge point draws its power from combination of the local grid and a 1.9kW photovoltaic panel connected to an 8.4 kWh battery. At standalone maximum, the battery facility charges on 101 volts -- a handy supplement to the grid-based output of 202 volts.
Unused solar power can be used for internal facilities like lighting and communication, fed back into the grid as a revenue raiser or kept on standby for local emergency use.
Toyota isn't as new to this business as it may appear. It's been working on charging infrastructure and onboard technologies for a decade or more.
Where these technologies have been somersaulting in recent years hasn't been in energy transfer but in making use of communications advances to incorporate them into 'smart' networks.
At the 2009 Tokyo motor show, the company showcased its smart-card based user authentication systems, allowing operators to build databases to analyse power usage conditions and patterns.
Toyota plans to extend IT facilities in the stations to electronic billing.
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