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Gas-guzzling German carmakers face uphill struggle to go green

BERLIN (Reuters) – As Germany quickens funding in renewables, the power consumption of its carmakers reveals simply how reliant the nation’s most necessary trade is on fossil fuels, a Reuters evaluation of environmental information exhibits.

Their dependence lays naked the hurdles automakers face in remodeling their very own power consumption whereas shifting the transport sector, liable for round 30% of German power consumption, in the direction of electromobility.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and spiking gasoline costs have stepped up the urgency for German trade, which consumes one other 30% of the nation’s power, to maneuver away from fossil fuels, with instruments like carbon offsets and renewable power certificates now not sufficient to satisfy the brand new objective of power independence.

Volkswagen trusted non-renewable power sources for round 80% of its wants, whereas for BMW the determine was over 60%, based on 2021 Carbon Disclosure Challenge (CDP) information, based mostly on 2020 figures supplied by the businesses.

Over half of the carmakers’ power consumption was from fossil fuels, with the biggest chunk from pure gasoline, the CDP information – the world’s largest repository of environmental information – confirmed.

Whereas carmakers more and more have their very own renewable energy turbines on-site, these lined a miniscule quantity of their world power urge for food – round 1% for Volkswagen and even much less for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, based on the info.

Mercedes-Benz’ most energy-efficient manufacturing unit in Sindelfingen sources 30% of its power by way of photo voltaic panels on the roof, the carmaker has mentioned.

It mentioned in early April that renewables lined 45-50% of its power wants at current, and that it goals for 15% to be met by way of on-site renewable energy turbines by 2030.

BMW’s Leipzig plant, which makes the electrical i3, generates 20% of the power it wants for manufacturing from 4 on-site wind mills, based on a press release.

FILE PHOTO: Mechanic workers work on the manufacturing line of Volkswagen e-Golf within the Glaeserne Manufaktur plant in Dresden, Germany Could 8, 2018. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

The corporate declined to say what quantity of its complete power consumption throughout Germany is generated from renewable sources on- or off-site, however a spokesperson mentioned it was “not sufficient to cowl us if the gasoline switches off”.

Tesla’s new plant in Gruenheide has photo voltaic panels on the roof, however a spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the panels’ capability or whether or not the plant has another renewable power sources.

“It’s necessary corporations are open in regards to the electrical energy they eat,” Silke Mooldijk, an power researcher at environmental think-tank New Local weather Institute, which displays the power combine and carbon footprint of main corporations, mentioned.

“They’ve an necessary function in reminding those who there’s nonetheless plenty of work to do.”

Information from Germany’s setting company confirmed half the nation’s industrial power consumption in 2020 got here from gasoline or coal, a lot of it equipped by Russia.

Bosch, the world’s largest auto provider, informed Reuters it meets solely round 1% of its power wants worldwide by way of on-site manufacturing of renewable power, with the biggest chunk sourced from photo voltaic panels in India. It goals to boost this to five% by 2030, a spokesperson mentioned.

BMW mentioned in its responses to the CDP questionnaire that 39.5% of its world power consumption was from renewable sources, based mostly totally on electrical energy it bought on the open market.

However greater than half of the renewable power bought by BMW is purchased within the type of so-called “unbundled power certificates” offered by renewable suppliers. This enables BMW to sign demand for renewable power to the market which ought to immediate funding in additional capability – nevertheless it doesn’t imply renewable power is definitely flowing into the carmaker’s crops.

Moreover, an oversupply of certificates from decades-old European hydropower crops means their sale doesn’t essentially spur new funding, power researcher Christoph Riechmann of consultancy Frontier Economics mentioned.

“The entire thing can be much less problematic if buying and selling in inexperienced power certificates wasn’t like a revolving trade… this downside can’t be averted except there may be transparency for all prospects on the origin of the electrical energy they purchase, for them to make a acutely aware selection,” Riechmann mentioned.

BMW mentioned it was working to incentivise the development of latest crops through direct contracts with suppliers, and searching into the way it might improve the proportion of power sourced on-site.

Of their bid to free themselves of fossil fuels, carmakers should discover options for heating manufacturing halls and paint retailers, at the moment completed primarily by way of gasoline.

Alongside in search of different types of power, Mercedes-Benz is attempting to easily cut back its demand for warmth by preserving manufacturing halls cooler, its finance chief Harald Wilhelm mentioned on an earnings name earlier this week.

Simply 12-13% of the heating consumed by the three main carmakers is generated from renewable sources, the Carbon Disclosure Challenge information confirmed.

Some carmakers, together with Porsche and Audi, use mixed warmth and energy crops, which generate warmth by way of burning biomass waste, however there may be sometimes not sufficient biomass for this to be completed at scale, Albert Waas, automotive knowledgeable and associate at Boston Consulting Group, mentioned.

“Electrical energy is simpler to inexperienced,” Mercedes’ manufacturing chief Joerg Burzer mentioned at a current convention. “Vitality is tougher.”

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Extra reporting by Christoph Steitz;Modifying by Elaine Hardcastle

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