Toyota Material Handling Europe embarks on innovative multinational solar strategy

In 2019, TMHE and Alight joined forces to develop a strategic solar energy program. With both companies aiming to accelerate the transition to a carbon-free future, the long-term partnership combined TMHE’s deep knowledge in electric forklifts and lithium-ion batteries with Alight’s expertise in solar power. The ambition was to implement solar power systems at TMHE’s own sites and develop solar power solutions that could be integrated within Toyota’s product offering.

Toyota Material Handling Paris
Toyota Material Handling rooftop installation in Paris

Toyota Material Handling Europe is the European headquarters of Toyota Material Handling Group, which is part of Toyota Industries Corporation — the global leader in material handling equipment. It provides businesses of all sizes, in more than 30 European countries, with a full range of counterbalanced forklift trucks, warehouse equipment/services, added-value solutions and innovations. Over 95% of trucks are manufactured in our European factories, in Sweden, France and Italy — all to Toyota Production System´s (TPS) quality standards. 


Opportunity: Decarbonization in the face of increasing electricity demand 

Toyota Material Handling plays a central role in global manufacturing and logistics. After all, nearly every good we buy has been transported on a conveyor, forklift, or another type of material handling equipment in manufacturing plants, warehouses, and retail stores. 

Electrification is accelerating within logistics, driving an increased demand for energy. At the same time, manufacturing and logistics, including their entire supply chains, need to quickly decarbonize in order to combat climate change. As a leader in material handling, TMHE also wanted to lead the transition to a sustainable future. 


Approach: Rooftop solar with stationary storage 

Electric forklift trucks with lithium-ion batteries, powered by solar electricity from a company’s own roof can create environmental as well as financial gains. To achieve this, TMHE and Alight entered a long-term partnership that combined TMHE’s deep knowledge in electric forklifts and lithium-ion batteries with Alight’s expertise in solar power. The vision for the joint strategic energy program was to develop solar power solutions that also let TMHE’s partners and customers move the world towards a carbon-free future. 

The program was an important step towards reaching Toyota’s energy targets of 100% renewable electricity in 2020 and zero-carbon emissions from all products and solutions by 2050.

Under the program, we are sharing a vision of on-site storage with used lithium-ion batteries that could be used as cost-efficient, stationary storage for solar energy. Electric trucks can be charged with solar energy, even when the sun is not shining. As a first step, rooftop solar power systems would be installed at Toyota Material Handling’s production and management facilities in five countries, through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). The PPA meant Alight would own, build and operate the solar installations and TMHE would buy the clean energy at a low, fixed cost — a model that would allow TMHE to scale quickly in multiple international markets.


Result: A multinational solar rollout

With the partnership now in full swing, Alight has installed a rooftop solar system at the TMHE headquarters in Mjölby, which it is now looking to expand on additional buildings, ground-mounted and carport installations. In early 2023, its facility in Bussy-Saint-Georges Paris, France was officially commissioned, and the rooftop solar power plant is now providing power equivalent to 25% of TMHE’s total annual electricity consumption. Next up, Alight and TMHE are discussing plans for sites in Spain and the UK. In addition, Alight and TMHE are also evaluating offsite solar to further lead in sustainability.