The BMW Group will begin sourcing aluminium produced using solar electricity with immediate effect. This marks an important milestone on the road to the company’s goal of lowering CO2 emissions in its supplier network by 20% by 2030.
Since producing aluminium is highly energy-intensive, the use of green power – such as solar electricity – offers considerable potential for reducing CO2 emissions. That is why the BMW Group also plans to source aluminium produced with green power in the long term – enabling it to avoid approx. 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over the next ten years. This is equivalent to about 3% of the CO2 targets the company has set for its supplier network.
“We aspire to lead the way in sustainability and implement our sustainability goals in a systematic manner. We will be able to meet over 50% of our CO2 targets for the supplier network, just by using green power. The use of solar electricity for producing aluminium is a major step in this direction,” said Dr. Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network.
The aluminium produced using solar power is processed in the light metal foundry at BMW Group Plant Landshut to manufacture body and drive train components, including those needed for electric drive trains, for instance. Sourcing 43,000 tonnes of solar aluminium valued in the three-digit million euros will supply nearly half the annual requirements of the light metal foundry at Plant Landshut.
The trend towards e-mobility means that a much larger percentage of a vehicle’s lifecycle CO2 emissions now comes from upstream added value in the supplier network. In an electrified vehicle, CO2 emissions from the use phase are much lower, but producing battery cells or aluminium is very energy-intensive. Without corrective measures, CO2 emissions per vehicle in the BMW Group supply chain would increase by more than a third by 2030. The company not only wants to stop this trend, but also reverse it – and even lower CO2 emissions per vehicle by 20% from 2019 levels.
The BMW Group has therefore already agreed with suppliers for its current fifth-generation battery cells that they will only use green power for producing battery cells.
The BMW Group is now taking the next logical step by sourcing aluminium produced with green power. Because, as e-mobility takes off, aluminium will become increasingly important as a lightweight material that can partially offset the heavy weight of the batteries in electrified vehicles. However, producing aluminium is extremely energy-intensive.
Generating the electricity needed to produce primary aluminium, i.e. aluminium obtained directly from the mineral compound alumina, is alone responsible for about 60% of the global aluminium industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. The use of solar electricity is therefore an effective lever for reducing the CO2 emissions associated with aluminium smelting.