BMW i3 thinks and gives priority to green electricity through intelligent charging


In close cooperation with the power grid operator TenneT, the BMW Group is working on innovative solutions that make electromobility a cornerstone of the energy transition. An intelligent charge control system developed for BMW charging can help to influence the charging process of electric cars so that the power grid is kept stable and existing energy from regenerative sources is used optimally.

This solution has now proven its practical suitability after a successful deployment in the USA as part of another pilot project in Germany for the first time. It is based on networking technology, which is already standard on the all-electric BMW i3.

The aim of the BMW Group is to make the charging of electrified vehicles as convenient, cost-effective and emission-efficient as possible for their customers. The digital integration of electric cars into the electricity grid makes it possible to match charging processes to the customer's mobility needs as well as to grid stability and the availability of renewable energy. In this way, intelligent charge control can help to prevent bottlenecks in the power grid while giving priority to green electricity.

If the customer's mobility plans are in line with this, the charging process of suitable electric vehicles can be briefly reduced, for example in the event of a supply bottleneck, in order to relieve the grid. The feeding of energy into the high-voltage battery will continue as soon as the bottleneck in the grid has been bridged – optimally at a time when sufficient amounts of wind or solar energy are available.

Intelligent charging control responds to signals from the network operator

The charging control developed for BMW charging functions as a link between the vehicle and the electricity grid. It registers the needs of the electricity network signaled by the grid operator and can optimally control charging processes of connected electric vehicles on this basis. This is done regardless of whether the vehicle is connected to the power grid via a public charging station, a BMW wallbox or a conventional household socket. The signals are processed by the vehicle's digital charging control and networked electronics.

In the context of the most recent pilot project, it was possible to register and process indications from the network operator and project partner TenneT of impending network overloads in order to temporarily reduce the charging process in selected BMW i3s. Thus, electricity from renewable sources was optimally integrated into the grid – and the use of reserve power plants in the field of fossil fuels was avoided.

The results of the pilot project are another milestone on the way to the digital integration of electric vehicles into the power grid and form the basis for the realization of this solution on a larger scale.

Electromobility: from the challenge to the solution for the energy transition

With the steadily growing stock of electric cars on the roads, the demand for electricity for individual mobility is increasing. In terms of total demand, however, electromobility represents a comparatively small factor. Independent studies assume that, for example, with a stock of two million electric vehicles, the demand for electricity in Germany will only increase by about one percent.

At the same time, electromobility is helping network operators tackle new tasks associated with the increased feed-in of renewable energy through smart charging control. Above all, supply and demand – ie electricity generation and consumption – must be precisely balanced both regionally and in quantity.

For example, wind power generated in the north must be able to reach consumers in southern Germany. This is made more difficult when the capacity of the network is already exhausted. Without intelligent control, bottlenecks can arise that need to be quickly compensated. Therefore threatens the undersupply of an area, is currently mostly the performance of short-term available coal or gas power plants raised.

Intelligent charging can help to keep the electricity price stable

These interventions in power generation, known as redispatch, alone cause annual costs of around 500 million euros in Germany, which have to be borne by the network operators. They can be reduced by intelligently controlled charging. By reducing charging time and time, the network bottleneck is eliminated. Beyond reducing redispatch costs, the integration of electric vehicles into the grid and smart charging control in the foresight has the potential to help reduce the expansion of trans-regional power lines and so on to keep the electricity price stable.

In addition, the network stabilizing services provided can also be the basis for energy business models. Because with intelligently controlled charging, electrified vehicles can generate a remuneration. This is a milestone on the way to the BMW Group's vision of being able to offer drivers of e-vehicle charging power one day, completely emission-free and free of charge.

Holistic offer in the field of electromobility

The BMW Group has already put a precursor to the current pilot project in Germany on the road with BMW i Charge Forward. In the US state of California, the intelligent, demand-based and grid-oriented control of charging processes has already been tested for several years with more than 300 electric vehicles in everyday practice and remunerated by the local network operator. The financial bonus in turn benefits the participating drivers of these e-vehicles – a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Source: BMW – Press release from 07.11.2019

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