In the US and other parts of the world, electricity grids are transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable resources. As an increasing number of states and local governments are setting ambitious clean energy targets aimed at reducing carbon emissions, utility companies are seeking technological solutions to integrate renewable energy on the grid.
The BMW Group is leading the charge of accessing and storing renewables on the grid through its innovative ChargeForward program. The pilot program is a collaboration between California-based utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center.
The aim: to use as much solar energy as possible while contributing to the overall stability of the electricity grid. This is made possible through the ChargeForward application that allows participants to input when they’ll use their vehicle. While the vehicle is parked, and at a charging station, this information allows the BMW charging control system to regulate the charging process; enabling the vehicle to charge during non-peak hours and when GHG emissions are the lowest.
Recently, the ChargeForward program finished the second phase of testing and released its report. The report highlighted many different findings that can help drive clean energy forward in the transportation sector, including:
- Smart-charging EVs have the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 32% on average in Northern California studies.
- Smart charging can enable EVs to accept an additional 1,200 kWh of renewable energy per vehicle per year. This is the equivalent of 3,500 to 5,000 miles of additional zero carbon travel.
- Telematics data from automakers are a critical enabler of smart charging programs as it provides a holistic view of a driver’s mobility needs and helps facilitate daily charging during non-peak hours.
- ChargeForward vehicles can create an average of $325 in estimated grid savings annually per vehicle in California.
“Electric vehicles can make a significant contribution here, not only as a flexible resource to help balance the grid, but also as a tool to enable the grid to support more renewable energy in the long term,” says Adam Langton, who manages the project for the BMW Group.
As green energy initiatives move forward, flexible programs like ChargeForward will become more relevant to consumers and utility companies.