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It’s an oft-used counter-argument to green vehicle production — the fact that that things aren’t always green right up the supply chain.

After all, in many contexts, an electric car may be produced in plants powered — or charged through a grid fed — by fossil fuels.

This makes BMW’s announcement this week at its Annual Account Press Conference 2015 that 51 per cent of the electricity it uses worldwide in the production of its cars is now supplied by renewable sources rather interesting.

This “significant milestone” milestone is the half way point to the company’s goal of gradually increasing the share of renewable energy to 100 percent over the coming years.

Leipzig

It says it will do this by making its facilities more efficient, but also by installing more systems that generate their own power via renewables (likely referring to solar). The remainder will be purchased from renewable energy providers.

Some examples of BMW’s green shift are already known. The Leipzig, Germany, plant (pictured above) that makes the i3 and i8 is powered by four wind turbines.

At the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, USA, (pictured below) where it makes the X5 and X6, a methane gas system provides around 50 percent of the energy required for production. At the 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 percent of the energy required by the production plant this year.

BMW Manufacuring aerials on 8/28/13.  File: 082713GR34

“We have a clear objective and a concrete plan for the transition to renewable energy,” said head of sustainability and environmental protection at the BMW Group, Ursula Mathar.

“However, economic viability is essential for implementation. Only under the right framework conditions can we put our plans into action step by step in individual markets worldwide.”

That might go some way to putting to rest any idea that its ‘i’ sub-brand is a publicity stunt rather than a serious mission into environmental sustainability.




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