Geysers, hot springs, steam vents, and mudpots are some of the vividly visible indications that Yellowstone National Park is among Earth’s most geologically dynamic areas. Stretched across 3,468 square miles in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and centered over North America’s largest super volcano, the majestic area is celebrated by scientists and travelers for its hydrothermal heritage and geological glory. Along with two-thirds of the world’s geysers, Grand Prismatic Spring, with its gold-lined aquamarine eye, hint at the boundless energy just beneath the surface. But for all of Yellowstone’s geothermal grandeur, an even more powerful source radiates above.
With the Lamar Buffalo Ranch project, Toyota proves that zero-emission, solar-powered systems can deliver secure, sustainable energy solutions far off the grid. By storing solar panel-generated energy in 208 used batteries from Camry Hybrid vehicles, Toyota has engineered a first-of-its-kind program that doubles the lifespan of its recovered hybrid batteries and presents a renewable, low carbon option for energy independence almost anywhere in the world. “For a long time, my biggest concern has been what to do with all these hybrid batteries after their service in cars,” says Kevin Butt, Toyota General Manager and Regional Environmental Director. “With this project, we’ve developed an innovative way to extend their useful life. It’s really exciting.”
Illumination off the Grid
Building on Toyota’s mission-driven collaboration with Yellowstone, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch project shows that clean power can be stored and distributed almost anywhere through the use of recovered hybrid batteries. Producing this secondary benefit from hybrid engines was a singular achievement. “The park was looking to find its way off of fossil fuels. We were looking for a way to experiment with what can we do with some of our batteries that no longer have a useful life in the cars but have a lot of life left in them for other needs,” explains Toyota Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz.
The benefits of Toyota’s innovation are immediate and visible. Not only does the Lamar project reduce the carbon footprint of research in the park, but it also eliminates the noise and emissions of the diesel generators that previously powered the field campus. The project reduces the environmental impact of conservation work and advances Yellowstone’s efforts to be the greenest park on the planet.
By working together with Yellowstone Park, we hope we can continue providing a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play, and other wildlife have a place to call their own.
Best of all, by supporting the environmental values of the rangers, researchers, and conservationists who will preserve this park for generations to come, the Lamar project helps Yellowstone visitors see more of what brings them to the park in the first place—pristine wilderness, abundant wildlife, and geographical superlatives.