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Gas-guzzling German carmakers face uphill struggle to go green

Mechanic staff work on the production line of Volkswagen e-Golf in the Glaeserne Manufaktur plant in Dresden, Germany May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

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BERLIN, April 29 (Reuters) – As Germany speeds up investment in renewables, the energy consumption of its carmakers reveals just how reliant the country’s most important industry is on fossil fuels, a Reuters analysis of environmental data shows.

Their dependence lays bare the hurdles automakers face in transforming their own energy consumption while moving the transport sector, responsible for around 30% of German energy consumption, towards electromobility.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and spiking gas prices have stepped up the urgency for German industry, which consumes another 30% of the country’s energy, to move away from fossil fuels, with tools like carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates no longer enough to meet the new goal of energy independence.

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Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) depended on non-renewable energy sources for around 80% of its needs, while for BMW (BMWG.DE) the figure was over 60%, according to 2021 Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) data, based on 2020 figures provided by the companies.

Over half of the carmakers’ energy consumption was from fossil fuels, with the largest chunk from natural gas, the CDP data – the world’s largest repository of environmental data – showed.

Reuters Graphics
Reuters Graphics
Reuters Graphics

While carmakers increasingly have their own renewable power generators on-site, these covered a miniscule amount of their global energy appetite – around 1% for Volkswagen and even less for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, according to the data.

Mercedes-Benz’ most energy-efficient factory in Sindelfingen sources 30% of its energy through solar panels on the roof, the carmaker has said.

It said in early April that renewables covered 45-50% of its energy needs at present, and that it aims for 15% to be met through on-site renewable power generators by 2030. read more

BMW’s Leipzig plant, which makes the electric i3, generates 20% of the energy it needs for production from four on-site wind mills, according to a statement.

The company declined to say what proportion of its total energy consumption across Germany is generated from renewable sources on- or off-site, but a spokesperson said it was “not enough to cover us if the gas switches off”.

Tesla’s (TSLA.O) new plant in Gruenheide has solar panels on the roof, but a spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the panels’ capacity or whether the plant has any other renewable energy sources.

“It’s important companies are open about the electricity they consume,” Silke Mooldijk, an energy researcher at environmental think-tank New Climate Institute, which monitors the energy mix and carbon footprint of major companies, said.

“They have an important role in reminding people that there’s still a lot of work…

Read More: Gas-guzzling German carmakers face uphill struggle to go green

2022-04-29 02:39:00

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