The energy mix is key to achieving the Volkswagen Group’s long-term goal: mobility with no CO2 emissions.
More electric cars on the road, CO2-neutral production processes and renewable sources of energy – these are the three pillars of Volkswagen Group’s e-mobility plans. They are closely related and essential to achieving the long-term goal of genuinely CO2-free mobility. A practical example? An electric vehicle powered by electricity generated from fossil fuels increases its impact in terms of CO2, and thus remains a way off meeting the target.
In Norway, where nearly half of the cars are electric, average CO2 emissions have dropped to just 71 grams per kilometre – a significantly low level compared to the European average of 118.5 grams in 2017. However, this was only possible because Norway gets nearly 100% of its energy from hydroelectric plants. Electric vehicles are therefore only as clean as the electricity they run on, and this is the biggest challenge for Europe.
A lot of energy goes into producing an electric car. Generally speaking, the larger the battery and therefore the longer the e-car’s range, the more CO2 was emitted to make it. Obviously, driving without any CO2 emissions can offset this initial quantity, but as we said, the real key is using energy from renewable sources. Currently, we are some way from achieving this: in Germany, for example, the energy mix is made up of around 60% from non-renewable sources. The government, companies and the energy industry together need to make some major changes here in order to achieve concrete change.
Think Blue. Factory
As far back as 2010, the Volkswagen Group, in particular with the Volkswagen brand, set ambitious targets in terms of the sustainability of its production processes. The introduction of the “Think Blue. Factory” programme in all plants has led to a reduction in the environmental impact of the production cycle – a set of data including CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption, waste production and solvent emissions – of 40.4%, both for cars and for components. The new goal is to achieve a 45% reduction by 2025, and meeting it would mean a major step forward towards the vision of zero-impact factories. To reach this target, each production site is pursuing its own decarbonisation strategy.
The Zwickau site is undoubtedly a model in this respect: while car production has risen by 3% since 2010, absolute CO2 emissions levels from production have dropped by 66%. This has been made possible by the use of renewable energy and highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) stations that emit 23,000 tonnes less CO2 a year than conventional power stations. In addition, the thermal energy they generate is used to heat the factory instead of being allowed to dissipate into the environment. With supplementary investments in climate protection projects that compensate for the remaining unavoidable emissions, Volkswagen will be able to achieve overall carbon-neutral production at the Zwickau site by the end of the year, in time for the Volkswagen ID‘s arrival on the market.
Green energy for customers
In terms of improving the energy mix, the Volkswagen Group is also committed to providing renewable energy to private households and small businesses through its subsidiary Elli, which offers energy and charging solutions in Germany – all from certified renewable sources.
Source: Volkswagen AG