LONDON: BP said on Thursday it had invested in Chinese start-up PowerShare, which links electric vehicle drivers to charging points and helps power suppliers balance distribution.
The PowerShare application, which is used in cities such as Shanghai, will help manage growing pressure on power grids as electric vehicles (EVs) usage surges in the coming decades.
With China targeting sales of more than 7 million EVs by 2025, the need to manage demand and distribution of power on the grid, particularly at times of peak demand, will be crucial.
BP's investment is the latest in a string by the London-based oil and gas major and several of its rivals, including Royal Dutch Shell and Total, in EV charging as they target future low-carbon economies.
Car producers, utility firms and energy companies have doubled down efforts in recent years to find ways to manage the expected surge in power demand.
PowerShare helps drivers locate charging points and pay for the supply, while allowing suppliers to optimise to balance demand on the grid, depending on the time of day, for example between city centres and residential areas.
"As more and more EVs come on, grid operators are concerned about mobile demand. PowerShare can monitor where vehicles are and where demand is in the system," Graham Howes, managing director of BP Ventures in Asia, told Reuters.
BP, which has invested in fast-charging battery docks and battery storage technologies, did not disclose the size of the investment in PowerShare, but its venturing business typically invests up to ten million dollars in one firm.
"We wanted to find a technology that can cope with volume," Howes said of PowerShare, which is BP Ventures' first direct investment in China.
(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Alexander Smith)