Solar carport: using sunlight to make electric cars cheaper to run

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was a chance for German carmaker BMW to show off its new solutions for home charging of electric and plug-in hybrid models

The BMW i is a solar-powered carport system capable of generating and storing energy. It is meant to be used in conjunction with the company’s existing home charging station, not only charging the car with solar energy, but redistributing any surplus power back into the consumer’s home.

“This is what we are aiming to go for — full integration of our electric cars. This means a electric vehicle becomes a part of your home, of your energy flows at home. So you have your solar generation, you have your house load — your house consumption — and the car, with our system, gets fully integrated into this,” says BMW product manager Julian Lienich.

A bamboo and carbon fiber structure supporting a cluster of 40 solar panels, the carport is used in conjunction with the BMW i Wallbox Pro system. Using real-time solar and home energy data gathering software, the touchscreen display offers weather and solar power forecasts so users can better manage optimal solar charging times, or opt for domestic electricity supply at off-peak rates.

“If you decide you would like to charge your car solely with solar energy, then the energy storage gets charged, during the day, via solar power, and during night the car then gets charged out of the energy from the storage.
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