BMW plans to turn new and used electric vehicle batteries into a system that can store energy for homes and businesses.
The product—recently unveiled in Montreal, marks the company’s entry into the energy storage market, following similar moves by competitors, Daimler and Tesla.
BMW differentiates itself from its rivals by using an electric vehicle battery, as opposed to companies like Tesla which developed the Powerwall, a battery specifically designed just for commercial and residential use.
Overall, however, BMW’s product has the same goals, namely the storage of energy produced during the day from solar panels and a backup source of power in the event of failure of the power grid.
As well as using new BMW i3 batteries, the systems can also use electric vehicle batteries that are too old to use in a car, but still have enough life to be used in other ways. These will be introduced, the company says, as they begin to become available.
According to Fortune magazine, “that could be a while. BMW’s all-electric car has only been produced for a couple of years, with global sales topping 47,000, according to BMW’s 2015 annual report. The warranty on most electric car batteries, including the BMW i3, is eight years.”
Although details are yet to emerge, BMW’s systems are equipped with car batteries that have 22 or 33-kilowatt-hours of capacity. The typical U.S. household uses between 15 and 30 kWh of energy daily for appliances and entertainment devices, which means the battery stores enough energy to meet that household’s needs for a 24-hour period, BMW says. The unit can also be used to charge an electric car.
Specific areas of research have included how to manage the flow of electricity between solar panels, the home and the battery, as well as optimising the use of stored energy. The company has also undertaken projects in conjunction with academia to explore the use of used electric vehicle batteries with a view to creating a separate grid. As electric vehicle use increases, companies are also keen to fully understand the impact of home charging on the energy grid, so that the cost of owning an electric vehicle can be reduced.
Source: Adapted from Fortune http://fortune.com/2016/06/22/bmw-energy-storage/