BMW, E.ON develop ecosystem for smart charging
In a cooperation declared as strategic, BMW and energy provider E.ON intend to develop a charging ecosystem that will enable customers to link their electric car with the energy grid as part of a climate-neutral household.
The focus of the cooperation is on charging at home, which is currently the most important use case for charging electrified vehicles today and will continue to be so in the future. In addition, due to the longer standing times, charging processes in one’s own private garage can be controlled particularly well intelligently. The comprehensive ecosystem that E.ON and the BMW Group intend to build together is to be tailored precisely to this use case. The core element of the planned ecosystem is the creation of a common interface that connects three complex and previously separate systems: Firstly, BMW Group electric vehicles, which include BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce (although the latter is likely to be a rather unlikely participant in such a network); secondly, the customers’ smart home; and thirdly, the public energy grid.
In addition, the two partners jointly cover the entire breadth of the ecosystem along their respective competences: Within the framework of the cooperation, BMW Group will be responsible for the vehicles as well as the charging hardware and will manage the interface to the customer with a focus on mobility needs. E.ON will be responsible for the installation, electrical and networking services at the customer’s home, as well as sustainable energy tariffs and access to the energy market, which plays a key role in the intelligent control of charging processes.
The bundling of the expertise of both partners should ensure that the vehicle will fit seamlessly into the infrastructure in the user’s home. On the other hand, the charging process will run smoothly, while at the same time the advantages of in-house energy generation, for example through a solar installation, as well as the dynamics of the energy market can be used to the customer’s advantage.
Control of charging process in two flavours
The first customer offering as part of “Connected Home Charging” will be available in several countries in Europe from the middle of the second half of 2023 and will lay the foundations in hardware and networking as a package solution.
The intelligent control of the charging processes will initially enable two variants: solar-optimised charging, which enables the use of the largest possible amount of electricity from the home’s own photovoltaic system, and load-optimised charging, which optimally balances the amount of electricity available at home. Thus, in addition to more comfort, the establishment and use of the ecosystem also offers customers potential for cost savings, a higher degree of self-sufficiency for the household and optimisation of the CO2 footprint.
This ecosystem is to be expanded over the coming years and supplemented with further scopes with customer benefits. In the second step, this will include cost-optimised charging, in the context of which the networking of fully electric vehicle and smart home will be extended to the energy system. Then customers will be able to participate in the price development on the electricity exchange by means of a special electricity contract in order to charge when this is possible at favourable prices. However, BMW assures that the customer’s mobility needs will always come first. This means that the customer’s planned departure time and the required range are also taken into account when determining the optimal time window. This offer will be available to customers in the course of the coming year.
In addition, the cooperation will create the conditions to enable bidirectional charging in the future. This technology allows the high-voltage battery of the all-electric vehicle to be used as an energy storage device and the stored electricity to be fed back into the household or the electricity system at a later time.
The results of the cooperative research project “Bidirectional charging management – BDL”, which was completed at the end of 2022, will be used in the development of the future customer offer. The focus was on using a holistic approach to link vehicles, charging infrastructure and electricity grids for the first time in such a way that regeneratively generated energy can be promoted and supply security increased at the same time. The project used 50 regenerative BMW i3s.
With regard to the use case “vehicle to grid”, i.e. the feeding of energy into the electricity grid, the effectiveness of bidirectional charging management was demonstrated: On the one hand, the intelligently controlled integration of electric vehicles into the electricity grid can further increase the share of regeneratively generated energy in total consumption in Germany. On the other hand, the storage units of the electric vehicles can selectively absorb generation peaks from wind power and solar plants and release them again in times of low generation while maintaining the driving needs of the customers. This can reduce the ramping up of fossil power plants and their emissions during such time windows. In addition, bidirectional charging technology can thus contribute to security of supply and grid stability.
With the technology of bidirectional charging, further functions and optimisation approaches in the ecosystem become possible, for example the provision of grid-serving and stabilising services by the electric vehicle in the context of bidirectional charging or the more comprehensive, optimised use of green electricity by the overall electricity grid based on this.
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