The three “Rs” for a more sustainable life are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. BMW created a project in Brazil that used the first two Rs to prevent the third one. After collecting used battery modules from some i3s it sold in that country, the company joined UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina), Grupo Solvi, and Energy Source to create an off-grid solar charging station. 9 photos
The solution comprises eight solar panels on the roof of the charging station. They feed a tower with six battery modules from the i3 which are no longer good enough for automotive use but are perfectly fine for storing the energy generated by these solar panels. An inverter manages these modules. It controls both the energy stored and charging electric vehicles that connect to the charging tower thanks to a BMW Wallbox charger.
The charging station does not rely on the public grid, which would allow it to be placed in remote areas where there’s no access to power lines. Another possibility is to use them just to avoid spending money in sunny places. BMW also highlights that this charging station can be helpful if power shortages strike.
The bad news about the off-grid solar charging station is how long it takes to charge any car. BMW said an i3 would recover only 100 km of range after being plugged in for two hours. For people in need of fast charging, this is definitely not the way to go.
On the other hand, such stations could be established in parking lots in companies, for example. When people start going back to offices, their cars will be sitting for at least six hours in the same spot anyway. If your EV has time to spare, the off-grid solar charging station may fit like a glove if the cost for establishing it is economically feasible. BMW did not disclose how much it cost to reusing instead of recycling.