BMW launches energy storage company

January 14, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Electromobility is increasingly becoming a component in a multidisciplinary energy interaction – with the batteries being the pivotal point in the system. The latest move in this game: Carmaker BMW has launched a joint venture with heating systems vendor Viessmann Group.

Under the name Digital Energy Solutions, the BMW-Viessmann joint venture will offer energy management solutions and related consulting services. According to BMW’s press release, the strategy of the new company will pursuit an overarching approach that spans disciplines like electromobility, electric power, air conditioning and heating. For the time being, the offer is directed to small and medium-sized companies in Germany and Austria.

BMW contributes its expertise in electromobility as well as its charging infrastructure access service ChargeNow – according to the carmaker, ChargeNow is the largest service of its kind in the world. In addition – and this is actually the more interesting part of the equation – the new company plans to establish a business field that integrates high-voltage batteries into smart, stationary energy storage systems. The batteries for these systems will originate from used electric vehicles. To a certain extend, the company will also use new batteries. The system will be controlled by a purpose-built software called Smart Energy Backbone, developed by BMW. This software has been created on the basis of BMW’s existing in-house energy management deployed in the company’s global manufacturing network.

The decision to launch the new business is based on the consideration that with a globally increasing trend towards renewable energies, the demand for energy buffer and storage systems will rise, and electromobility will play an increasing role in this scheme. Another motivation is the endeavour to reduce the overall CO2 emissions per vehicle produced.

BMW is not the only vendor of electric vehicles to enter the energy storage business. Nissan and Daimler have established similar business branches independent of each other. According to a Daimler spokesperson, the business model for such storage systems is at least in part be based on the fact that after the vehicles have reached their lifecycle, the batteries typically still have 80 percent or more of their capacity. Thus, the second use of these batteries seems an