The power grid, for the most part, wasn’t designed with too many fail-safes, and the aging infrastructure shows this weakness every time there is a storm or excessive demand. Blackouts and brownouts, though, can be at least minimized or mitigated with the addition of smart-grid technology.
By combining smart switching and backup power supplies, even storm damage can be isolated quickly and automatically, keeping more residential lights on, and making repairs easier. Closely related is micro-grid technology and building management systems, which make use of switching, backup power supplies, and even renewable energy, to even out a building’s energy consumption.
Both smart-grid and micro-grid technology save money, part of which has to do with the rechargeable batteries functioning as backup power supplies. New batteries could be installed, but when recycled batteries are just as good, why not make use of them? As it turns out, a ready supply of recycled rechargeable batteries are as close as the nearest automobile recycling center, and automakers are looking to make use of these batteries instead of putting them through an expensive recycling process.
General Motors’ Chevy Volt batteries typically still have about 70% capacity when they are recycled, and are being put to use in smart-grid and micro-grid applications. Toyota is the latest to announce similar intentions, and is the first to commit an entire business unit to finding micro-grid applications for recycled hybrid batteries.
The new 10kWh backup power supplies, comprised of recycled Toyota hybrid batteries, will be installed at Toyota dealerships in Japan, fitting up to six units in a single parking space. Toyota plans on combining these into a complete micro-grid application, including building management software and solar power. The batteries will find new life as backup power supplies, and the dealerships will save money on their utility bills.