DOUBLE FRONT – Car manufacturers face different difficultyon the side ofpower and sustainability in a context exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. In fact, we know that much of the electricity produced comes from fossil sources, and this property seems to be emphasized when talking about the energy consumed by the major German car groups. In the country, transport is responsible for about 30% of energy consumption overall, where the industry absorbs another 30% of the total amount. To the difficulties caused by the rise in energy prices in the post-pandemic came the cables coming from Ukraine (here to learn more) and the further rise in energy prices catalyzed by the conflict.
THE FOSSILS? THEY ARE TOO MANY – This dependence on fossil energy sources has several negative effects that go beyond the purely environmental issue. The prices of‘renewable energy they are actually much more stable than gas and oil, and those that use more renewable energy are less affected by increases in energy prices. Data from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), published in 2021 and based on data provided by companies for 2020 data, show that Volkswagen was dependent on non-renewable sources for about 80% of its needs, approx. Mercedeswhile BMW it was just over 60%. It is noted, however, that about half of the 39.5% of renewable energy used by BMW was in the form of energy certificates and non-renewable energy actually located in the factories. The production of renewable energy locally, ie. at the factories, was marginal and equal to 1% for Volkswagen and even less for Mercedes and BMW. These are average values: Mercedes, for example, states that I solar panels on the roof provides 30% of the energy consumed by the Sindelfingen plant and that the share of the energy produced by the group itself is expected to reach 15% by 2030. Reuters notes that the BMW plant in Leipzig generates 20% of the energy in place required for production through 4 wind generators.
CHANGES IN PROGRESS – Data from the German Environment Agency showed that half of the energy needs industry in 2020 came from gas and coalmost of which came from Russia. The situation is even worse for Bosch, the largest manufacturer of car components in the world: the group produces only about 1% of its global energy needs locally, mostly with photovoltaic systems in India; the plans are to reach 5% by 2030. BMW instead announced that its new plant in Debrecen (Hungary), where the New Class electric car is to be produced, scheduled for 2025, will be the first in the world not to use energy from fossil sources. A significant part of the electricity used in the plant will be produced directly on site, and the rest will come almost exclusively from renewable sources produced in the region. Needless to say, for his Gigafactory near Berlin (production has just started, here the news), as well as for the others, Tesla provided for the installation of solar panels on the roof, although it does not communicate data on production and on other renewable sources. In 2017, he talked about 70 MW of power for the “sunroof” at his Gigafactory in Nevada, which was to be completed this year.
CONSUMPTION LESS, EFFICIENT STRATEGY – In addition to seeking alternative energy supplies, Mercedes is considering reducing its own heat demand, produced mainly with gas, by lowering the temperature in its production halls: according to CFO Harald Wilhelm during a call dedicated to corporate profits. According to data from the Carbon Disclosure Project, only 12-13% of the heat used by the three major German groups is produced from renewable sources. Porsche And Audi they use combined thermal and electric power plants that work with biomass, but these are small productions because the available biomass is not enough for large-scale production. Renewable energy therefore arouses interest because they would be a good solution to stay away from geopolitical upheavals, but it was certainly necessary to move in this direction for years back and anticipate events instead of chasing them.