BMW ChargeForward: charging with excess renewable energy
BMW North America and Californian energy provider Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) extend their ChargeForward pilot from 400 to 3 000 electric BMW drivers. Urged by a central BMW server to move their EV charging times, drivers can support the grid while taking advantage of renewable energy when there is less demand such as in mid-day periods.
The aim is to use as much solar energy as possible while contributing to the electricity grid’s overall stability. The ChargeForward application allows participants to input when they use their vehicle. While the car is parked and at a charging station, the BMW charging control system can regulate the charging process remotely.
It’s a form of ‘smart charging’ BMW is testing in the San Fransico Bay Area since 2015 with owners of BMW i3s and plug-in hybrids like the X5 Drive or the 330e and 530e. For the third phase of the pilot, more BMW EVs to be launched in the US will be added, including the electric MINI.
So far, there are only bonuses to earn by the participants, besides the knowledge you’re actually helping to reduce CO2 emissions even further by using renewable energy.
Lower electricity bills
Actual lower electricity bills will be possible when bi-directional charging (V2G or Vehicle to Grid) is available, and EV drivers can ‘sell back’ electricity to the grid operator. V2G capable EVs can both charge from and discharge to the grid, serving as a battery storage resource when the vehicle is parked.
For this phase, BMW offers participants an initial bonus of $150 at registration and another $250 per year, depending on how well ChargeForward recommendations are followed. The total amount earned over the two years depends upon individual participation in charging events.
750 miles per month for free
In spring and autumn, EV drivers can charge up to 750 miles per month of renewable energy for free when this green electricity is highly available. “Participants could earn incentives that offset the entire cost of charging their vehicle this way,” the project team says.
Phase two of the pilot showed that smart charging EVs could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by an additional 32% on average in Northern California, according to the findings of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center that analyses the data.
Over 1 million miles (1,6 million km) were ‘powered by 100% renewable energy ‘charging during a one-year period. The BMW report states that each smart-charging vehicle can absorb up to an additional 1 200 kWh of renewable energy per year, equivalent to 3 500 to 5 000 miles.