How BMW is driving smart energy strategies

BMW recently convened a group of transportation, electric vehicle (EV) and energy thought leaders in Silicon Valley to participate in a dialogue with their senior executives about sustainability, energy and mobility services. The discussion also focused on V2G (vehicle-to-grid) integrations pondering new smart grid convergences with sustainability principles.

BMW's guiding view is that sustainability along the entire value chain is inseparable from their corporate self-image. The company has been systematically reducing energy use in facilities through energy-efficient materials, products, and processes; and in vehicles through use of regenerative energy technologies.

The production facilities for its electric BMW i cars will incorporate renewable energy. Industrial plants and processes are major electricity consumers.  Adding renewables to their energy mix reduces reliance on fossil fuels, and in Germany, helps address the looming retirement of that nation’s nuclear fleet as well.  Co-located generation with consumption also reduces the need for build-outs of the transmission infrastructure and eliminates the energy losses that would otherwise occur in long distance, high voltage transmission.

All of these activities merit commendation, but the discussion group's consensus was that creating programs that encouraged BMW dealerships to adopt renewable energy production and energy–efficient building technologies and processes would be an even more powerful means to visibly demonstrate commitments to sustainable practices.

Since many of BMW's customers fall into the affluent and green categories, rooftop and parking lot solar installations and energy-efficient lighting could reinforce the brand’s image -- and particularly with the new all-electric BMW models. BMW doesn’t own dealerships nor their real estate, but some outside-of-the-box thinking combined with that strong corporate commitment to sustainability could yield surprising innovations.

Next page: EV batteries for grid resiliency?