Toyota Opening Poop-Powered Power Plant

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Toyota announced plans at the Los Angeles Auto Show to build a commercial-scale renewable power plant in California. This 100 percent renewable power plant of the future will run on cow manure from the state’s dairy farms.

This will be the first Toyota facility in North America to use 100 percent renewable power and the first megawatt-scale carbonate fuel cell power generation plant in the world. It will have a hydrogen fueling station to support the Port of Long Beach using all that poop to generate water, electricity, and hydrogen.

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The Tri-Gen facility is set to come online in 2020 and will generate 2.35 megawatts of electricity and 1.2 tons of hydrogen every day. To put those numbers into perspective, that’s enough to power 2,350 average-sized homes and 1,500 vehicles every day.

This is a big part of Toyota’s plan to move us all toward hydrogen as a fuel source. There are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles available now, but they’re something of a novelty. You can buy a Toyota Mirai, but with a starting price of $57,500, it’s out of reach for most people. It’s also available only in California, making it anything but commonplace.

This new facility isn’t geared toward individuals, but is a commercial venture designed to serve as a proof-of-concept for local hydrogen generation facilities. It will supply fuel to all Toyota fuel cell vehicles moving through the port. This includes new Mirai sedans arriving from Japan for U.S. customers and Toyota’s Heavy Duty hydrogen fuel cell class 8 truck called Project Portal. This required the building of one of the largest hydrogen fueling stations in the world with the help of Air Liquide.

“For more than twenty years, Toyota has been leading the development of fuel cell technology because we understand the tremendous potential to reduce emissions and improve society,” said Doug Murtha, group vice president- Strategic Planning. “Tri-Gen is a major step forward for sustainable mobility and a key accomplishment of our 2050 Environmental Challenge to achieve net zero CO2 emissions from our operations.”

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The Tri-Gen plant was developed by FuelCell Energy with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy and a slew of California government agencies focused on air quality and clean energy technologies. There are currently 31 retail hydrogen stations in California and Toyota plans to increase that number through partnerships with a variety of companies, like Shell, which is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a major automaker and an oil company.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin