BMW Taps Old Batteries for Demand Response Trial

January 6, 2015 By Linda Hardesty

BMWPacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and automaker BMW are teaming up to test the ability of electric vehicle batteries to provide services to the electric grid.

PG&E selected BMW after a competitive solicitation to manage a minimum of 100 kilowatts of electric demand on PG&E’s system, much as other large industrial and commercial customers do as part of the utility’s demand response programs.

BMW will help PG&E manage power demand on its grid in two ways. First, the automaker will create a large energy storage unit at the BMW Group Technology Office in Mountain View, using lithium-ion batteries that were once installed in MINI E demonstration vehicles. Like other storage systems, these “second life” batteries can absorb cheap surplus electrical energy when demand is low and release it on request when demand soars.

Second, BMW will enlist up to 100 customers of its new BMW i3 electric vehicles to take part in the BMW i ChargeForward Program. If PG&E needs to curb customer demand for whatever reason, it will send BMW an alert over the Internet, indicating how much load to cut and for how long. BMW then will signal the telemetry equipment in each participating vehicle, telling it to halt its charging for the duration of the event.

PG&E will pay BMW for these services, as it does other demand response participants. However, BMW will leverage these payments to lower the overall cost of ownership of owning an electric vehicle.

PG&E hopes that this program, if successful, will pave the way for other automakers and demand response partners to leverage the value of grid services from electric vehicles, and similarly reward electric vehicle customers.

Photo: BMW via Shutterstock

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