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BMW sustainability: Making more, using less

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In 2015, the BMW Group said that 51% of its electricity used as its plants worldwide was being supplied by renewable sources.

The company said it has a goal of reaching 100% renewable “in the coming years.” During its Annual Account press conference in Munich, BMW officials laid out a plan to transition to 100% renewable source electricity that included improving its energy consumption at all of its plants, installing systems that will generate electricity from alternative sources and purchasing renewable source electricity from energy companies.

“We have a clear objective and a concrete plan for the transition to renewable energy. However, economic viability is essential for implementation,” said Ursula Mathar, BMW’s head of sustainability and environmental protection, at the 2015 press conference. “Only under the right framework conditions can we put our plans into action step by step in individual markets worldwide.”

In 2003, BMW Manufacturing Co. started using four turbines to turn methane gas from the Palmetto Landfill into electricity. Now, that methane gas is used to turn the turbines that supply approximately 50% of the total energy needs for the Upstate facility.

Six years later, BMW replaced the four original turbines with two new turbines that increase the electrical output from 14% to nearly 30%, according to BMW Manufacturing Co. BMW officials said the new program reduces carbon dioxide emissions “by 92,000 tons per year or the equivalent to the benefit of planting over 23,000 acres of trees annually (roughly 30 times the size of New York’s Central Park).”

The company said the landfill gas program has saved BMW an average of $5 million annually in energy costs.

At other BMW plants:

  • Leipzig, Germany. The BMW Group is using wind power. In mid-2013, four wind turbines started operation on the premises of the plant, with 100% of the power produced going into the production of the BMW i3 and BMW i8.
  • Rosslyn plant in South Africa. The foundation stone for a combined heat and power unit fired by biogas was laid at the end of 2014. The gas used is sourced from the waste products created on cattle and chicken farms. Commissioning of this system will already enable the company to cover more than 25% of the energy required by the production plant in 2015.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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