The BMW Group sources aluminum produced with solar energy, with a CO2 savings of some 2.5 million tonnes by 2030.
Solar-powered aluminum will cover almost half of the annual needs of the Landshut plant’s light metal smelter +++ The € 3 million contract with Emirates Global Aluminum will enable the supply of 43,000 tonnes of aluminum in 2021 +++ The BMW Group also plans to source aluminum produced with green energy in the long term, with a CO2 savings of some 2.5 million tonnes by 2030.
The BMW Group begins sourcing aluminum produced with solar electricity with immediate effect. This is a great milestone for the company in reducing CO2 emissions in the supply network by 20 percent by 2030. Since producing aluminum requires a high energy level, the use of green energy, such as Solar electricity offers considerable potential to reduce CO2 emissions. For this reason, the BMW Group also plans to source aluminum produced with green energy in the long term, which will allow it to avoid approximately 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the next ten years. This equates to about three percent of the CO2 targets that the company has set for its supplier network.
“We aspire to lead the way of sustainability and apply our sustainability goals consistently. We will be able to meet more than 50% of our CO2 targets for the supplier network, just by using green energy. Using solar electricity for aluminum production is a decisive step in this direction “, says Dr. Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for the Purchasing and Suppliers Network.
Aluminum produced from solar energy is processed in the light metal smelter at the BMW Group’s Landshut plant to make bodywork and propulsion components, including those needed for electric trains, for example. The supply of 43,000 tonnes of solar aluminum, valued at three million euros, will cover almost half of the annual needs of the light metal smelter at the Landshut plant.
The use of green energy is key to reducing CO2 emissions.
The trend towards electromobility means that a much larger share of a vehicle’s life cycle CO2 emissions now comes from the added value of the supplier network. In an electrified vehicle, the CO2 emissions of the use phase are much lower, but the production of battery cells or aluminum is very intensive in energy consumption. Without corrective measures, the CO2 emissions per vehicle in the BMW Group’s supply chain would increase by more than a third by 2030. The company not only wants to curb this trend, but also reverse it, and even reduce CO2 emissions by vehicle by 20% compared to 2019 levels. Therefore,
As electric mobility continues to grow, aluminum will become increasingly important as a lightweight material that can partly offset the heavyweight of batteries in electrified vehicles. However, aluminum production is extremely energy-intensive. The production of the electricity necessary to produce primary aluminum, that is, aluminum obtained directly from the mineral compound alumina, alone is responsible for about 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions of the global aluminum industry. The use of solar electricity is therefore an effective lever to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with aluminum smelting.
A solar park in the desert supplies green energy for the production of aluminum
The BMW Group already has a long-standing primary aluminum supply relationship with Emirates Global Aluminum (EGA). Now, EGA has become the first company in the world to also use solar electricity for commercial aluminum production, which it will initially supply exclusively to the BMW Group. EGA is supplied with this electricity at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, located in the desert outside Dubai, which is set to become the largest solar park in the world. It is managed by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, which has the electricity it produces certified by third parties as sustainable, ensuring that it can supply energy to EGA in a safe and transparent manner.
Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, Managing Director of EGA, said: “We are delighted that the BMW Group is our first customer for EGA’s low carbon CelestiAL aluminum. Aluminum is light, strong and can be infinitely recycled. That is why it plays a role. Such an important role in the development of a more sustainable society. But the way in which aluminum is produced in a sustainable way is also important. Solar aluminum is a step in the right direction: it uses a source of natural and abundant energy in our environment desert to produce a metal that is vital to the future of our planet. “
Wendt adds: “At EGA we have found a strong partner who values sustainable development as much as we do. We are honored to be the first customer to receive aluminum produced with solar electricity. Aluminum plays an important role in electromobility and to use aluminum produced sustainably is tremendously important to our company. “
Innovative production processes: light metal smelting at the BMW Group plant in Landshut
The light metal smelter is the largest production unit in the BMW Group’s Landshut plant and the company’s only European plant dedicated to light metal smelting. Last year, the more than 1,600 employees in the light metal smelter at the BMW Group’s Landshut plant produced a total of 2.9 million cast components. The scope of production includes engine components such as crankshaft heads and housings, components for electric propulsion systems and large-scale structural components for vehicle bodies.
The light metal foundry is one of the most modern in the world. Its innovative and sustainable production processes have won numerous awards. Light metal casting also works with sand molds, among other methods, to make castings. Sand parts are manufactured with inorganic binders, making the casting process virtually emission-free. Five different casting methods are used for the standard production of castings. The most suitable casting method is selected based on the component concept, the technological requirements and the production volume.
Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI) Certification
The light metal smelter at the BMW Group’s Landshut plant was already certified for its sustainable use of aluminum in December 2019. It complies with the standards of the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI), an international non-profit organization with the support of environmental and industrial associations, NGOs, aluminum producers and processing companies. The ASI aims to maximize the contribution of aluminum to a sustainable society and defines sustainability criteria for an environmentally and socially responsible aluminum value chain. Through this initiative, following an independent third party audit, the BMW Group received confirmation that its light metal foundry handles aluminum in a conscientious and responsible manner.
Responsible use of natural resources
In addition to using green energy to produce aluminum, the BMW Group is also taking additional measures to safeguard reserves of critical raw materials. For example, the BMW Group has set itself the goal of significantly increasing the percentage of recycled raw materials, the so-called secondary material, by 2030 and using the raw materials multiple times in the framework of a circular economy. The use of secondary material substantially reduces CO2 emissions compared to primary materials and also conserves natural resources.
At the same time, the BMW Group is establishing carbon footprint as a new contract award criterion for its supply chain and has already started implementing it for tenders with the highest carbon footprint in 2020.
These measures are already paying off in the BMW iX (combined consumption: <21 kWh / 100 km in the WLTP test cycle *; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g / km): The use of renewable green energy to produce the fuel cells. Batteries, in combination with increased use of secondary material, reduces CO2 emissions in the BMW iX supply chain by 17%, compared to the same vehicle produced without these measures.
The BMW Group aims to have more than seven million electrified vehicles on the road by 2030, two-thirds of them fully electric. To do this, the BMW Group purchasing department is working with suppliers to ensure not only that the supply chain can manage the growth in volumes, but also that it can implement the requirements for sustainable development. In this way, the BMW Group purchasing department is making a vital contribution to the company’s transformation towards electromobility.