Pilar Alvarez
Sustainability 22.09.2022 4 Min.
“Everyone’s on board!”

In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by a wide range of people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Pilar Alvarez.

Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.

So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In its “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.

In this edition of our series, Pilar Alvarez, Environmental Protection and Quality Coordinator at the BMW Group plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, explains the challenges and benefits of using bio-gas.

Pilar Alvarez

Pilar Alvarez, you focused on natural resource management during your studies. A specialist at the BMW Group plant in San Luis Potosí, you are now responsible for coordinating environmental protection activities. What is your goal right now?

Pilar Alvarez: The overarching goal is for our plant to be CO2 neutral. Our day-to-day work is always geared towards finding solutions to achieve this goal. We generate our electricity from photovoltaics. In this respect, we are already CO2-free. We do also use some natural gas though: to generate heat in the furnaces in the paint shop, to cook meals in the canteen and to heat the buildings. Sadly, natural gas produces CO2 emissions. That is why we are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives and have set up our own project to investigate this.

Biogas is the key word that immediately springs to mind. What is getting in the way of using this alternative?

Alvarez: There is not yet a market developed in Mexico for biogas – that is, gas from non-fossil sources. There is still a lot to do in this respect – from generating it in the first place to feeding into the pipelines. The little biogas that is produced in some places in the country has so far been used exclusively to generate electricity. The legal framework has not yet been defined, as the topic is still quite new. Moreover, we already know that it will not be a cheap solution – it could even be four to five times more expensive than using natural gas.

Pilar Alvarez

You clearly have some major challenges ahead of you. Are there some success stories already?

Alvarez: Yes, there are: we have everyone on board! CO2 neutrality is also a top priority within management. The gas project is one of the priority sustainability projects and our leadership circles are keenly focused on progress. We also seek expert advice and work closely with other BMW Group departments to assess the potential impact of the project. All in all, it is quite time-consuming though, so I have reorganised some elements of my previous tasks to let me focus on the current requirements.

Despite all the effort: what attracts you to the project and why did you take it on?

Alvarez: Switching to biogas could have a huge impact for us. This is not just about achieving CO2 neutrality for our plant. Our commitment can have a lasting impact on many companies and industries in Mexico that are willing to invest in and use greener alternatives to natural gas. As well as all this, I have already learned a lot through this work, including on a very personal level. For example, I always remind myself to look on the bright side of things. The project still has some challenges and not every day is plain sailing. But every challenge we overcome and every small step we take makes me happy. And I am proud to be part of a team that shares my commitment to environmental protection.

Pilar Alvarez

Let’s imagine you meet the Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Oliver Zipse, and he asks how he can support this project. What would you say?

Alvarez: I think I would ask him to personally present the project and its importance to all stakeholders. I have the feeling that there are some potential partners who would be interested in taking this idea further forward for our region. And with Oliver Zipse as a personal advocate, our message would be heard loud and clear.

So obstacles, challenges, but also big goals. In a single sentence: what motivates you to keep going every day?

Alvarez: First and foremost my family and friends. And also the future, because I hope it will be bright for all of us.

And when is it good enough?

Alvarez: Never. There are always opportunities for improvement.

In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.

“WEffect – we make the BMW Group sustainable.“
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