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Toyota forklifts’ lithium batteries to balance solar power at carmaker’s facilities

Toyota also manufactures fuel cell forklifts (pictured) which are another advanced alternative to lead acid along with the lithium-ion powered vehicles of the type which will be used at the company's own facilities. Image: wikimedia user Comyu

Solar rooftops are to be deployed at Toyota facilities across five countries, with plans to exploit synergies with existing lithium-ion batteries.

Contacted by sister site PV Tech today, consultancy Eneo Solutions said up to 8MW of PV will be added to buildings of Toyota Material Handling Group (TMHG), a warehouse gear-making unit within the Japanese multinational.

Eneo will own the installations and supply electricity to Toyota via power purchase agreements (PPAs), while construction and O&M will be subcontracted to third parties. 

A spokesperson for Eneo explained construction of the first installation will start this year at TMHG’s European headquarters in Mjölby, Sweden.

Decisions around the EPC for Mjölby and the location for the four further rooftop plants will be disclosed later this year, the spokesperson added.

The programme is billed by its promoters as the first cross-border PPA arrangement seen in the global rooftop PV ecosystem. 

The scheme will tap into the energy storage units already on site, used to power TMHG’s electric forklift trucks.

"The module-based Li-ion batteries will be given a third life as cost-efficient, stationary storage for solar energy,” said TMHG in a statement. “Electric trucks can be charged with solar energy, even when the sun is not shining.”

Asked by this publication what the energy storage capabilities will be – or whether new capacity will be added – the Eneo spokesperson commented: “This is something that we are working out and will disclose later on.”

Forklifts have been considered a smart fit for lithium batteries and the advanced technology has been replacing lead acid for some time, while there is also interest in fuel cells to power forklifts with the likes of Generate Capital's Jigar Shah an investor in that technology. Meanwhile the technology to take power from a vehicle battery and use it on the grid or in a closed network such as Toyota's is also gaining traction.

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