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BMW shows prototype of streetlight with integrated EV charging

During the Eurocities conference this week in Munich, the BMW Group presented the prototype of a highly energy efficient street light that is also a charging station for electric vehicles, called “Light and Charge”. The units combine the latest LED technology with a standard connector for EV charging. The charging station, integrated into BMW i's ChargeNow network, allows the driver to start charging with just one click.

The LED modules are more energy-efficient than other lighting and have a higher luminous efficiency. The units are universal and can be modularly adapted depending on the location. With up to four LED modules, they can illuminate the lanes of major roads at night; one or two modules provide a pleasant light in the side streets and residential areas.

The Light and Charge unit. Click to enlarge.   The charging station. Click to enlarge.

As LED technology also enables targeting of the light rays, an unnecessary and ecologically unfavorable light scattering can be avoided.

Light and Charge is a simple and innovative solution to naturally integrate a reliable network of charging stations in the city. With the ChargeNow map of BMW i, we are creating today access to the world’s largest network of charging stations. We are pleased that we can with our partners to promote the expansion of the charging infrastructure further jointly by the project Light and Charge. Only with a comprehensive charging infrastructure we see the future more electric vehicles in the cities.

—Peter Black Bauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG

Two prototype units are now in service in front of BMW World; BMW will begin a pilot project in Munich in spring 2015 in spring 2015 in Munich that uses a portion of the local lighting network.


This is an awesome idea. All those apartment dwellers Davemart worries about can now get a charge. The article doesn't say much about cord management but I think Qualcomm, WiTricity and a few others would really like to solve that problem.

Nick Lyons

This will work in some world cities, but not in others, due to security issues.


The charging would bootstrap on grid capacity meant for air conditioning, implying that you would have to shut down or turn down AC's at night, so the competing demands of car, streetlights and AC do not get out of hand. You can't expect to charge a car during the day even though streetlights are off, because AC's are running. Even so, this is a good use of the grid and a pretext to collect money to substantially modernize it. Better than the stupid telephone pole PV's we ratepayers have to endure.


It would help, but there are a lot more cars on the sides of the streets most places than there are lamposts.
Under the road inductive charging would be the way to cover them, but this is a good start.
There simply is not room most places for dedicated charging posts.


Let's say you have 10% electric cars, and half of these need to be charged on the street.
So you need to find places to charge them. You could assign a place to the first 100,000 people who asked, but then you would start even more parking wars. Would you reserve the EV charge spot for any ev owner ? For the guy who asked for it ?
or would you just bunch a few EV spaces together and let people walk to them.
Else, you flood the place with EV chargers, which would be expensive.
Or maybe not, in which case, this would be the thing to do.
After all, you probably have 7-12 hours to charge the EV, it doesn't have to be more than 3Kw, which would not be so expensive.

What you want is a charger where you can say, "have my car charged by 7am". The car tells the charger how many KwH it needs and the system works out when to supply the power - it might wait till 1am and charge from 1-5 am, next morning.
Or it might charge when the wind was blowing, or was expected to be blowing.


Davemart, weren't you referring me to a particular road as proof that dual-purposing of streetlight posts wouldn't work?

If we can get charging delivered to 20% of on-street parking slots with this scheme, easily 20% penetration of PEVs can be served.  Even if PEVs became 100% of LDV production tomorrow, it would take on the order of 4 years to get to that 20%.  I think we can manage this problem in the normal cycle of infrastructure maintenance.


Perhaps we should ask - why mix the two at all?

Most streets are already lit and most streets do not have charge points. The street lights are positioned optimally for illumination, not for charging. Why should the lighting people get involved with charging cars ?
Thus, maybe it would be better to keep them separate.
MAYBE when building a new district, you could combine the two, but you might just be better leaving them separate.

It is like combining a hammer and a screwdriver: you could do it, but you would gain nothing.


It is quite a leap to say "these work" since it is a concept and we have not seen them deployed successfully in any great numbers anywhere.

I think cordless charging has more potential, wireless communication between car and charger would do. The car owner parks within the lines and the rest is automatic. It could be rather profitable too with that supposed 4X marginal that keeps being posted.

Perhaps we should ask - why mix the two at all?

Because the light pole already has power run to it, and already has the footing.  Very little is required beyond replacing the pole with one that has a charger on it.  It bypasses all of the "chicken/egg" problems of getting the first increment of EV support out in cities.

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