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Toyota Industries Corp. Develops Solar Charging Station for EVs and PHEVs

Toyota Industries’ solar charging station. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Industries Corp (TIC) has developed a solar charging station for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). The municipal government of Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture plans to build 21 such stations at 11 locations such as the municipal office and branch offices. Full operation of the stations will begin in April, with 20 Prius Plug-In Hybrids.

The station is grid connected, and also captures power generated by the 1.9 kW solar panel in an 8.4 kWh storage battery, for subsequent use in charging. Maximum output using grid power is 202VAC/3.2kW. Self-sustained operation using solar power from the battery pack has a maximum output of 101VAC/1.5 kVA.

Excess solar power can be used for facilities in the system, or sold to a utility company. TIC envisions that the station can also provide power to electrical equipment in a disaster.

TIC developed the EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment), which now has a communication function and the maximum 200V/16A/3.2kW output.

Toyota Industries recharger on a stand. Click to enlarge.

TIC has been involved with the development of charging systems for electric vehicles such as charging stands and onboard chargers since the 1990s. TIC launched its current EVSE stands in July 2009. (Earlier post.)

At the 41st Tokyo Motor Show (24 Oct - 4 Nov 2009), TIC displayed newly developed charging stands with communication devices. In addition to the basic functions of the standard charging system, the newly developed stations allow user authentication using IC card technology, and enable the collection of data such as usage conditions of the charging service and amount of power used.

During the press briefing at the show, TIC said that it aimed to increase charging functionality to respond to the needs of the charging infrastructure by developing systems that support electronic billing, and solar charging stations incorporating solar power generation to further reduce the environmental impact.

It is also concurrently, developing smaller onboard chargers with higher efficiency to meet the growing demand for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

TIC has directly a number of components to the Prius, starting with the first generation system, including converters, inverters, and car air conditioning compressors.

  • For the third-generation Prius, it developed and manufactured the cooling device incorporated in the Power Control Unit (PCU).

  • Utilizing its simultaneous brazing technology, TIC now mounts the power semiconductors directly onto the cooling device, reducing the thermal resistance to two-thirds of the prior level. By simplifying the cooling structure and improving cooling performance, it reduced the cooling device to one-third the size of the conventional model, which has greatly contributed to a reduction in the overall size and weight of the PCU.

  • TIC has been developing and manufacturing the DC-DC converter since the first generation Prius. The newest unit now employs a newly developed circuit that is suitable for the smaller sized converter. This advancement enables the converter size to be reduced by 30% while providing 20% higher output compared to the previous model.

  • By reducing the discharge capacity and integrating the inverter for the air conditioning with the electric compressor, the Electric Compressor maintains the same cooling performance as the previous model with a 20% reduction in total size and weight, making it easier to install into vehicles. This Electric compressor with integrated inverter is also being installed into other vehicles such as the Lexus RX450h or the Lexus LS600h, and a series of these compressors will be released for installation in different hybrid vehicles.


The Goracle


VERY cool!

What is the price per kilowatt-hour using these stations? What is the cost of building and maintaining (replace batteries, clean panels to keep efficiency up, etc.) each unit? Why is this information left out of the article? It is information needed to run a cost/benefit analysis on such projects.



Looks good, but pretty stupid. The energy source does not need to be proximal to the charging station. They have amazing technology to handle this. They are called 'wires'.


This is a good use for panels. It keeps the weather out and does not sun bake the car. One 10 ft. by 20 ft. solar car port can create 10 kWh per day, or enough to run the car 40 miles per day. It might cost $20,000 but could save $2000 for fuel per year, depending on the mileage and cost of fuel. A 10 year payback is not bad, considering the panels will last at least 30 years.


This is marketing, not engineering.
As Jim points out "wires" are in use throughout the world moving electric power around.
Unlike solar power, they work very well at night. They are not affected by clouds.

There is no reason not to put solar panels on a garage forecourt roof, but you might be better angling them south, rather than lying them flat.

Also, as mentioned in the 18650 discussion, you will probably want a coffee shop and gift / sweet (candy) store to amuse the punters while they charge up. (And a washroom.)

Hence a larger station.

Putting a solar station in an off-grod location has some merit, but not much as you will need large batteries to charge it up.

@SJC I do not follow your maths - 10 KWH / day is 3650 KWh / year - at say c15 / KwH, this is about e550/year, which is nearer a 36 year payback, which is tricky at any realistic interest rate. I think you may be comparing the cost of gasoline to the price of solar power.

As my old friend Bob Dylan once almost put it ...

"The answer, my friend is blowing in the grid".


I agree that the grid is still the best solution, especially in a city.

Let's keep this solution for desert highways such as in Australia. I would love to experiment a trip from Port Augusta to Darwin with those kind of renewable energy station on my way every 150km. No need anymore to carry petrol on road trains (and pay it 1.8 dollar/liter), take the energy from where you are.
It could actually be a sustainable station in that case according to the poor number of people on those roads and the massive quantity of sun !


200 square feet at 10 watts per square foot for 2000 watts for 5 hours per day. Gasoline in Japan might cost more than $6 per gallon, 40 miles per day would be over 12,000 miles per year. At 24 mpg that is 500 gallons times $6 gallon for an annual fuel bill of $3000, I was being conservative.


Actually this station is grid connected. Your car can be recharged by the grid or the solar array and excess solar power can be used for facilities in the system, or sold to a utility company.


@AL, I assumed the station was grid connected - there are very few off grid places in Japan.
It makes sense to feed the grid when not charging anyone + you can get more power when you actually need to charge someone.

My point is that Solar is rather expensive compared to grid electricity, and that this is a marketing exercise, rather than a serious engineering solution to charging EVs.

But I am all for EVs, and if people want to market them to confused greens as running on solar power, I have no problem with that.
I am sure they will be delighted to find they can charge at night.


This returns to the possibility of end of life (30yrs) the glass roof is still purposefull.
Sydneys plethora of parking meters could use these chargers to provide both a charge boost (interconnected) or street lighting as a way of better service for meter parkers.

Solar voltaic glassware should be cpable of waterproof and other amenity to dual purpose the high single use cost.
Panel designs that meet this requirement will have no end of life.
Also spray on or thin film replacements should be available by then. Standard panel sizes and fixings for Metricated countries, extra incentive for change to those that aren't. (so they don't feel completely left out!)


Panels last at most 20 years according to the vendor from whom I bought a 5kw installation for my place.


Avg cost per installed kW has come down quite a bit in the last couple of years:

"As shown, capacity-weighted average costs declined from $7.8/W in 2007 to $7.5/W in 2008 – a 4.6% year-on-year reduction. This decline is somewhat greater than the average rate of cost reductions from 1998-2008, wherein installed costs declined by $0.3/W (3.6%)per year, on average, starting from $10.8/W in 1998."

From page 12 of a 2008 study here: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/reports/lbnl-2674e.pdf

So SJC's estimate was conservative. You should have been able to get that 2kW for a good price last year and even less in 2009. Probably less than $16k even for a small installation which has higher cost than average...and these prices are without any incentives.

Many places have incentives now so if you can get the net price down then maybe that payback, compared to grid prices, is not so long now. It's certainly a hell of a lot better than gasoline prices for the same distance...you just have to pay for it up front. :-(

Mannstein, are these numbers reasonable based on your real world experience?



... you might be better angling them south, rather than lying them flat.

In countries like Australia, Argentina, South Africa, you'd be better off angling them NORTH.

James White

A 2 kW solar aray in central Washington state will produce at least 2,400 kWh AC energy per year. The price of solar PV has dropped significantly during 2009. $5.00 per watt, total installed, is not unheard of today. Solar modules typically come with a 20 year warranty, and polychrystalline modules have practically zero degradation. Financing the system at 5% interest results in $0.33/kWh. Including the 30% federal tax credit brings it down to $0.24 per kWh. This is expensive for grid power but cheaper than gasoline. Gasoline has 116,000 BTU/gallon, which is equivalent to 34 kWh. But on average, only 25% is converted to useful work which is 8.5 kWh of useful energy. At $3.00 per gallon, gasoline is therefore equivalent to $0.35 per kWh.


This is marketing, not engineering.

And it gives us something to write about - maybe a better use of our time than cross-word-puzzles - maybe not.



I agree with you. Sometimes I wonder why I do this, nothing comes from it. If we could all agree on a course of action and suddenly funding and legislation show up and it actually gets done then THAT would be something.


@ DaveD:

Yes they are. In our neighborhood there was 7 KW array installed on a roof top in the early 1980s. The array was state of the art using poly silicon technology, similar to what I have just put up at my place. At the time the cost was well over $100,000. Needless to say it was paid for by the US taxpayer under a Government program to study how practical solar voltaic power generation would be in the North East. It was set up so that any electricity the homeowner did not use was automatically fed back into the grid. A colleague of mine was the program manager responsible for installation as well as performing data acquisition of key performance variables measured on a daily basis for several years. The data was collected with a microcomputer and transmitted over a dedicated telephone line to a central location. He was employed by MIT Lincoln Lab at Hanscom Airforce base in Lincoln MA. The house on which the array was installed was specifically built for passive solar heating as well as solar voltaic electricity generation. It was desigend to accomodate a family of four. The array was mounted on the south facing roof. At the end of the 1990s the array failed. Removing the panels became a real headache for the owners. Neither a roofing nor an electrical contractor could be found who was willing to take on the job.

Will S

This provides yet another means to reduce our dependence on foreign oil (some have forgotten that Bush said "America is addicted to oil"). And oil is back over $78/barrel today. There is nothing remotely marketing about the problem nor the solutions we need to undertake.

Of course, there continues to be excessive marketing focused on people having giant pickups and other light trucks.

Having this charging station serve also as a carport is just one more benefit.

Suzuki had prototyped something similar about a decade ago, though one could actually take the foldable PV array with them.

Our grid-connected 2kW PV array continues to work like new 10 years after we installed it.


On further thought, this is a REALLY stupid idea. Adding an additional battery to charge other batteries on a vehicle? Simply crazy and stupid!! There is a non-trivial efficiency loss in doing that, not to mention an unnecessary added cost.

Look at it this way. During the day, when the panels are working, one of three things could be occurring. 1) There is no car present, in which case you sell the power to the grid during peak usage time (that is, a good price). 2) There is a car that needs charging, in which case, you charge it. 3) There is a car there that does not need charging, in which case you sell to the grid, and maybe even the some of the car's storage too, if desired.

At night, you can charge the car from the grid at lower rates.

I think Toyota has become somewhat brain-dead w.r.t. the whole concept of PHEVs. Kinda weird.

Will S

"TIC envisions that the station can also provide power to electrical equipment in a disaster."

So having the battery helps from a disaster recover perspective.


Will S. sez:

"So having the battery helps from a disaster recover perspective."

So does having batteries in PHEVs. For free.

Will S


Not if they want to use those vehicles.


I frequently feel inclined to criticize the tendancy of posters on the site when they disagree over technology proposals when there could well be a range of applicable uses, as well as range of areas where the technology is innappropriate.

No sense in poo-pooing the technology from a viewpoint that will not be a likely application.
What will be a productive application will likely follow tradition of consumers finding application and especially true in these new transport or energy options.

Thats not to say critical comment isn't a benefit or thoughtful, just that we need to remember as we can't know the intention or future innovation of most any product that there is a perception of limited imagination of such comments .


25-40 year lifetimes?


Photovoltaic modules have no moving parts and last upwards of 25 years with no maintenance aside from the occasional cleaning. Realising such a long lifetime for entire PV systems relies on the continued integrity of all system components. The installation of modules in building facades and other structures has necessitated the use of push fit connectors to enable quick and easy inter-module dc electrical connection. New applications for photovoltaics such as roof shingles place further performance demands on electrical connectors such as shown in Figure 1. The dc interconnection between PV elements represents a potential weak link in a PV system.


2. Assumes 30-year period of performance and 80% maximum rated power at end of lifetime


Incentive programmes in Italy, Germany and Spain have created manufacturing volume that’s bringing down costs. Solar panel prices dropped 30% last year alone due to an increase in output and a drop in orders because of the recession.

PV-Panels had been expected to last for 20 years and price calculations were based on this (with a free energy source, purchase and installation represent almost the entire price of solar power)

Long lifetime

It has shown that more than 90% of the panels on the market 10 years ago are capable of still performing well after 30 years of life, albeit with a slight drop in performance.

We all know that 40-year photovoltaic panels will be on the market in the near future. Hot water collector panels are already expected to last 35 years with little loss of efficiency producing 70% of hot water needs. And quality heat pumps are known to have a life span of 30 years plus too outliving boilers 3 to 4 times, using only 30% of the energy, the rest is solar.


Solar panels will evolve in performance and cost much less per Wh by 2020.

Todays cost recovery period wil be halved by 2020.

A car port or parking place covered with long lasting solar panels + storage will eventually supply enough power for two PHEV/BEV or one BEV and a small house.

Grid connecction is a must to sell excess power or slong sunny days and to buy back on cloudy rainy days.


Reliability depends very much on environmental factors. A solar array will last longer in Southern California than the Northeast due to large temperature swings and moisture not present in Calif.

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