Just how clean is an electric car? It’s a question often asked by electric car skeptics and one which alludes to the problem colloquially known as the long-tailpipe: zero emission cars charged from power generated by fossil-fuelled power stations.
Most plug-in car owners we know avoid that problem by charging their cars up from power purchased from 100 percent renewable energy companies or from the solar panels on the roof of their home, but now German automaker BMW has unveiled a new smart charging station that helps plug-in car owners vouch that their plug-in cars aren’t powered by dirty power from the local coal-fired power station.
Enter BMW’s i Home Charging Services package, unveiled yesterday at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas . Comprising of a smart home-enabled BMW i Wallbox Pro charging station and a clever backend system which connects to the Cloud, BMW says the i Home Charging Services not only helps owners of the BMW i3 electric car and BMW i8 plug-in hybrid ensure their cars are charged by the greenest possible means but the cheapest too.
Designed to be used with or without a domestic photovoltaic solar array, the system can automatically start and stop charging based on grid load and cost, making it possible for those with solar panels on their home to only ever charge their car while their solar panels are generating excess electricity.
It does so by interfacing with data collected by Solarwatt and Kiwigrid, two independent companies offering smart grid solutions for consumers who want to make the most of renewable and affordable power. While Solarwatt specialises in helping homeowners generate, store and manage their domestic power, Kiwigrid focuses on managing distributed energy generation, consumption and storage between individual homes and the local utility grid.
Combined with data from both companies and the local weather forecast, BMW says it can help its BMW i3 and BMW i8 owners automatically charge their cars at the most energy-efficient time, or charge when it’s cheapest.
In total, BMW says, its BMW i Home Charging Services package could save customers up to 800 dollars per year in operating costs, although it has yet to announce the price of the service.
As with other BMW services for plug-in car owners, there’s no requirement BMW i3 or i8 drivers sign up, although for those who like their gadgets and want to appear as green as possible while saving money, this particular service could be a good fit.
For those who are less techie, a decent charge timer or manually charging when the sun is shining could be a low-tech alternative.
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