Bidirectional Charging Management (BCM) pilot project enters key phase: customer test vehicles with the ability to give back green energy.

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Munich. The first vehicles for the customer pilot
phase were handed over to their users at BMW Welt on 9 July. This
means that customers are now in possession of 20 BMW i3 cars equipped
with the new technology, with a further 30 due to be delivered to
business users in the coming weeks.

The “Bidirectional Charging Management – BCM” consortium research
project launched in May 2019 brings together companies and
institutions from the automotive, charging infrastructure, energy and
scientific sectors. They have teamed up to develop technological
solutions for making electric mobility even easier and cheaper for
users, with even lower emissions.

By adopting a holistic approach, the project aims to interlink
vehicles, charging infrastructure and power grids for the first time
in a way that facilitates the use of renewable energy – and at the
same time increases power supply reliability. The research project
will run for three years under the aegis of the German Aero-space
Centre and with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic
Affairs and Energy.

Start of testing under everyday conditions.

Not only will electric vehicles with bidirectional charging
capability be able to draw electrical power for their high-voltage
battery when plugged into a compatible charging station or wallbox,
they will also have the ability to reverse the process and feed energy
back into the distribution network operator’s power grid. This will
effectively turn the electric vehicles’ batteries into mobile energy
storage devices that can also supply electricity when required.
Integrating as many electric vehicles as possible into the power grid
in this way calls for myriad innovations in terms of vehicle
technology, charging hardware, charging management, communication
interfaces with energy sector stakeholders and legal parameters.

Bringing about these advances is the task of the research
project, in which the BMW Group is acting as consortium leader. It is
joined by KOSTAL Industrie Elektrik GmbH (development of charging
hardware), KEO GmbH (software provider for connecting the customers
systems with energy suppliers), transmission network operator TenneT
and distribution network operator Bayernwerk Netz GmbH (both energy
system services), the Research Institute for Energy and Research
Association for Energy e.V. (both FfE research into energy system and
grid repercussions as well as measurement data evaluation), the
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT; research into electricity
market and grid repercussions) and the University of Passau (user

The pilot customers will now be the first to benefit from this
new technology package. It essentially consists of the in-vehicle and
backend technology (BMW), the intelligent wallbox (KOSTAL) and the
networking for interconnecting the electric car, wallbox and
electrical installation in the customer’s building with the power grid
(Bayernwerk, KEO and TenneT). The first effect of this that impacts
customers directly will be the maximisation of energy generated from
their own photovoltaic system in their consumption pattern, resulting
in a sizeable reduction in electricity costs.

This will be supplemented in a second stage by vehicle-to-grid (V2G)
functionality, meaning that customers will engage in new business
models for energy trading and power grid stabilisation. Stage three
will extend the trial to customers with fleets of electric cars, who
will use their vehicles as short-term storage devices for eliminating
power consumption peaks in the daily load cycle.

The task of harmonising interaction between the individual components
and both existing and future communication standards – to ensure
seamless overall functioning – proved to be the main technical
challenge when devising this package. The vehicle development methods
and processes built up by the BMW Group and the unwavering commitment
of all project partners enabled the successful integration of such an
intricate multi-stakeholder system, including testing and validation.

Test phase for B2B customers via Alphabet

The first B2B customers are also among the test users for the
pilot phase. They were enlisted for the project with the assistance of
Alphabet Fuhrparkmanagement GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of the BMW
Group. Alphabet has been helping customers electrify their vehicle
fleets since 2013. The company uses its total e-mobility solution
AlphaElectric to provide support for customers throughout the entire
electrification process – from a needs analysis and creation of a
suitable model strategy, through to implementation of charging
solutions and intelligent billing options. The portfolio of services
also includes providing additional advice on how to draw up an
appropriate eCar Policy, for example, or optimum charging and load
management. In addition, customers can also lease charging solutions
through Alphabet.

Expanding electric mobility enhances power supply reliability.

As the number of electric vehicles on our roads continues to
expand, the amount of electric power required is going to increase in
the long term. At the same time, there will be a growing need to
control energy flows intelligently as this is the only way of making
optimum use of electricity from renewable sources.

In response to this challenge, the BMW Group teamed up with
power grid operator TenneT to develop an innovative solution as part
of a preparatory project in Germany that allows the charging strategy
for electric vehicles to factor in the customer’s mobility schedule,
the availability of green electricity and the current load on the
power grid. The intelligence required for local networking is supplied
by Bayernwerk and KEO.

In practice, this means plugged-in vehicles can suspend and
later resume charging when prompted by signals from the distribution
or transmission network operator. The bidirectional charging
technology (for backfeeding power) now being explored could lead to
even greater benefits. Indeed, it allows parked electric vehicles
hooked up to a charging station or wallbox to be used as flexible,
mobile energy storage devices.

During periods of particularly high demand for electricity, these
vehicles are able to feed additional power into the grid, while their
high-voltage batteries are mainly charged at times when electricity
from renewable sources is available or overall demand is lower. And
the stored energy can, in turn, be deployed exactly when needed,
whether for electric driving or boosting power grid
Bidirectional charging assists the energy
As well as improving power supply reliability,
intelligently controlled integration of electric vehicles into the
power grid can also further increase the proportion of renewable
energy in Germany’s overall electricity consumption. By utilising the
storage capacities made available in the high-voltage batteries of
electrified vehicles, supply and demand for green power can be
reconciled more effectively.

In this way, the batteries in electric vehicles can be used to
effectively absorb the peaks in wind and solar power generation, for
example, and then release the stored renewable energy again at times
of low renewable power generation (night, still weather), while always
making allowance for the customer’s driving requirements. This can
reduce the need to ramp up power generation at fossil fuel power
stations and increase their emissions during such periods, adding
further depth to the role of electric mobility as an intrinsic element
of the energy revolution. Its continued spread serves to lower CO2
emissions both from mobility-related sources and when generating electricity.

All-encompassing approach.

Nowhere else beyond the BCM project has such an all-encompassing
approach been adopted. All the relevant elements and variables for
normal operation down the line are being considered from a holistic
perspective and aligned. This means the interaction between the
charging hardware in the vehicle and at the charging point, the
accompanying digital services, plus the role of the networks at all levels.

Regulatory framework conditions and smart meter gateway as a
new component at the grid connection ensure secure communication
between energy suppliers and electric vehicles.

The legal and regulatory parameters will also be evaluated
during the pilot phase. As far as the domestic use of bidirectional
charging management by customers is concerned (“vehicle to home” or
V2H), the project partners have released an initial position paper
showing that V2H is already allowed for by current German legislation.
Analyses are now being carried out of the potential network- and
market-oriented uses under today’s regulatory framework.

Focussing on value for the customer.

The University of Passau (user research), Research Institute for
Energy (FfE) and Research Association for Energy (both energy system
analysis) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT; research
into electricity market and grid repercussions) are evaluating the
financial and ecological benefits for customers along with the
user-friendliness of the specific bidirectional use
Bayernwerk and BMW use the internationally established
EEBUS standard for this purpose. KEO GmbH has implemented the
technical implementation of the communicative connection of customer
households via the smart meter gateway to the energy supply. The BDL
project provides important impulses for the digitalization of the
energy transition and shows possibilities for the practical
implementation of the current regulatory questions.

The FfE is making a special contribution in the form of the “FfE
joint project”, which also gets the following stakeholders from the
energy sector and industry involved in the research project:
Bayernwerk AG, IAV GmbH, illwerke vkw AG, E.ON Group Innovation GmbH,
LEW Verteilnetz GmbH, rhenag Rheinische Energie AG, Stadtwerke München
GmbH, SOLARWATT GmbH, TransnetBW GmbH, Uniper SE, Viessmann Werke GmbH
Co. KG. As a result, experiences can be shared, standardisation
work accelerated and solutions devised that are widely accepted.

This will create a platform for subsequently implementing the
technology across the board and so integrate electric mobility into
Germany’s power grid.

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It is clear to the BMW Group that following an all-encompassing
approach and placing the focus firmly on the customer are important
success factors for the future of individual mobility.

“Thanks to our expertise in the development of charging technology
for electric vehicles, we also provide support for innovative
technological solutions like bidirectional charging,” says Frank
Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development. “This
makes electric vehicles part of an enormous energy storage system and
enables them to play a key role in the energy revolution. Continuing
to drive the widespread rollout of electric mobility is of fundamental
importance for us at the BMW Group. By making huge storage capacities
available in fleets of electric vehicles, bidirectional charging could
be an important factor in eventually ending our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Electric offensive in full swing

Thanks to intelligent vehicle architectures and a highly
flexible production network, the BMW Group will have around a dozen
all-electric models on the road as early as 2023. In addition to the
BMW i3*, MINI Cooper SE* and BMW iX3* models already on the market,
two key drivers of innovation will be brought out this year in the
form of the BMW iX* and BMW i4* – with the BMW i4 actually making its
debut three months earlier than originally planned.

All-electric versions of the high-volume BMW 5 Series and the BMW X1
are set to follow in the next few years. These will be joined by a
fully electric BMW 7 Series, an electric version of the next MINI
Countryman and other models besides. As a result, the BMW Group will
have at least one all-electric model on the road in around 90 per cent
of its current market segments by 2023.

The BMW Group will increase sales of all-electric models by an
average of significantly more than 50 per cent a year from now until
2025 – meaning sales will grow more than tenfold compared to 2020. The
company will have delivered a total of around two million all-electric
vehicles to customers by the end of 2025.
Based on current
market forecasts, the BMW Group expects all-electric vehicles to
account for at least 50 per cent of its global sales in 2030. This
means the company will put a total of about ten million all-electric
vehicles on the road over the next ten years or so. The BMW Group’s
strategy is therefore on course to meet the EU’s ambitious carbon
reduction targets for 2025 and 2030.