In addition to further developing electromobility, the BMW Group is also systematically implementing its sustainability strategy throughout the entire value chain. Since 2006, for instance, resource consumption and emissions per vehicle produced have decreased by more than 50%. When it comes to lowering water consumption in car production, the BMW Group is the industry benchmark. All plants operated by the BMW Group worldwide obtain their energy from renewable sources, guaranteeing a 100% carbon-free power supply.
The BMW Group has joined forces with BASF SE, Samsung SDI and Samsung Electronics to launch a joint cobalt mining project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Under the name “Cobalt for Development”, the partnership is working with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to improve working conditions in artisanal mining and achieve better living conditions in the surrounding communities. The idea is for this work to continue in the future as a privately funded project.
Cobalt is a key component in manufacturing batteries for the automotive and electronics industries. Industrial mining accounts for only about 80-85% of Congolese cobalt production, while the remaining 15-20% is extracted through artisanal mining. In line with the BMW Group’s commitment to human rights and compliance with environmental standards, a 100% privately funded project is testing an approach designed to overcome the challenges associated with artisanal mining.
Sustainability is an important aspect of our corporate strategy and plays a vital role in expanding electromobility. We are fully aware of our responsibilities. Cobalt and other raw materials must be extracted and processed under ethically responsible conditions.
Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Purchasing and Supplier Network
Batteries are a valuable source of raw materials. That is why the BMW Group is working with Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt and Umicore, a Belgian developer of battery materials, to create an end-to-end sustainable value chain for battery cells – from development to production to recycling.
Recycling of battery components like nickel, cobalt and copper plays an important role in closing the materials loop in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable. Battery recycling and second-life applications also help reduce consumption and CO2 numbers throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle. Experts refer to this as the environmental balance or Life Cycle Assessment – LCA, for short. The LCA divides a vehicle lifecycle into four stages, all the way to the end of its useful life: supply chain, production, use phase and recycling. The LCA allows CO2-intensive processes to be identified and modified. However, before batteries can be recycled in larger numbers, there is still a long phase of primary usage in vehicles and then second-life applications as stationary storage devices.
Battery storage farm in Leipzig.
The BMW Battery Storage Farm Leipzig forms the basis for two energy-related business models: Local energy optimisation at the Leipzig location targets energy costs and CO2, as well as grid stabilisation using so-called balancing energy. The large-scale battery farm is able to integrate locally-generated energy from its four wind turbines more efficiently into the plant's own energy consumption, further reducing its carbon footprint. By using “peak shaving”, i.e. avoiding costly peak loads, the battery storage farm also helps reduce energy costs at the Leipzig plant.
Battery storage farm in Hamburg.
Used batteries from electric vehicles are connected to form a large power storage farm in Hamburg. With energy available within seconds, they can help stabilise the power grid. The storage farm developed by Vattenfall, BMW and Bosch consists of 2,600 battery modules from more than 1,000 electric vehicles, with an output of two megawatts (MW) and a storage capacity of 2,800 kilowatt hours (kWh). With this capacity, the storage farm could supply the average two-person household with electricity for seven months.