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BMW presents solar carport concept for i models

The international media launch of the BMW i8 in Los Angeles will include the presentation of a solar carport concept developed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA for the use of renewable energy. It combines high-grade technology for generating electricity from solar power with an innovative design that complements the BMW i models.

BMW solar carport with i3. Click to enlarge.

During development of the solar carport concept by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, the spotlight was firmly on the harmonious interplay between vehicle design and architecture. The glass-on-glass solar modules of the carport are supported by exclusively designed bamboo and carbon elements that authentically reflect the hallmark lines and surface sculpting of the BMW i automobiles.

Thanks to its rapid growth, bamboo is considered a particularly sustainable raw material. For the generation of electricity, high-grade glass-on-glass solar modules are used. These are translucent and very durable, as well as generating a high energy yield. For the panels used in Europe, the manufacturer offers a 30-year guarantee.

The solar carport not only guarantees the supply of green power but furthermore allows for energy self-sufficiency, so that customers remain independent of electricity prices. In conjunction with the BMW i Wallbox Pro, the car can be specifically charged with solar electricity from the carport. The Wallbox also indicates the amount of solar energy that goes into the car and provides an analysis of recent charging processes which shows the respective proportions of solar and grid power. If the solar panels provide energy beyond the requirements of the vehicle, this surplus solar power can be put to domestic use.

Generating private electricity with the aid of solar collectors and feeding this CO2-free energy via the BMW i Wallbox into the vehicle’s high-voltage battery further optimises of the life cycle assessment of the BMW i models. Regularly hooking up the high-voltage battery to the Wallbox connected to the solar carport enables a high degree of CO2-neutral usage of the BMW i8. With a fully charged high-voltage battery, the plug-in hybrid sports car has a range of around 37 kilometers (22 miles) in all-electric mode.



Awful looking design?

Much room for improvement.

Nick Lyons

Green toys for millionaires.

I think it looks great! Wish I could buy one today.

Don't know why you call this a toy, Nick, what do you have against sustainable building materials and solar power? Sheesh.


Considering the EV, solar panels and carport probably cost $100,000 installed, I would say this is out of reach for most consumers. However it is a catchy concept, people are installing more solar panels on their houses and the next battery break through advancements could bring more range at a lower price.

Patrick Free

Nice ! Still what is missing for me here, as on previous concepts in the same interesting direction, is a local electricity storage capacity "option" within the grounded carport device itself, greater than the EV car capacity needed for today and tomorrow daily local commutes (Say >30KWH to be wide enough, both for PHEVs and BEVs, so it can last for many years). That could locally store all the Sun generated electricity during the day, when the car is with its owner at work, away from home. Then that storage could fast-recharge the car battery, when the car comes back home in the evening, releasing huge electricity demand at most problematic peak hours for the grid. Plus that local storage could even be used to feed the home itself at same peak demand times in the evening and during the night, if there was more electricity stored during the day than what is required for the car next day local commutes.... Helping the grid further when it needs it the most.
Setting just another "un-buffered" solar capacity directly attached to the grid, and that will just feed to the grid its solar generated energy at still un-competitive cost vs Nuclear CO2-free power (Gap being sponsored by tax payers), when the grid can only "waste it almost entirely" today, at the end of the morning and in the afternoon (lowest consumption hours, when grid is already in excess supply) is a bit short thinking in my view. Plus if the car then gets charged by the grid when it returns at home in the evening and the grid is already at peak demand, it will make the grid suffer even more, as more EVs will be added.
... This said, one could argue here, that if during the same daily time when sun is shining, the user car could be connected to the grid and recharge at user work location a few miles away from his home, instead of when he returns home in the evening, using only one battery in the car in that case, instead of one in the car plus one at home in the carport, Grid could still get a lower but very tangible benefit at a far cheaper cost, consuming a lot less limited Lithium resources per car owner. The car battery could then just consume remotely, that Sun generated electricity at the same low consumption hours it is generated, preventing that to be mainly wasted as today.
In both cases it's clear to me that adding energy storage capacities to the grid, either outside of it within the EV cars and/or within Sun production locations like this carport, to make them become reliable electricity sources and capable to supply green energy when the grid needs some, or mutualized within the grid itself, will be required to get more value from current renewable energies and especially the Sun, and grow the Grid output with same generation devices available today, just better using them.


We could see more people having battery packs at home in cooperation with utilities. This would be distributed storage on the grid that could quick charge an EV if necessary.

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