Zwei BMW i3 in einem Hafen vor einem Schiff

Biopower ahoy!

The BMW Group is participating in an initiative to test a new type of biofuel designed to make ship transportation more sustainable. Initial results show that it is possible to lower CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent. The percentage of sulphur oxide is also substantially reduced.  

It is turquoise blue, approximately 140 metres long and 23 metres wide. At a speed of around 20 knots, the transport vessel M/V Autosky is currently cruising on the sea route between Zeebrugge in Belgium and Santander in Spain. Up to 2,000 vehicles are also on board – most of them from the BMW Group. The ship owned by the Norwegian shipping company United European Car Carriers (UECC) is therefore an integral part of the value chain for which the vehicle manufacturer assumes ecological responsibility.   

Transport vessels such as the M/V Autosky are indeed a sustainable way of transporting goods. Nevertheless, shipping is responsible for about four percent of all greenhouse gases we emit worldwide. The percentage could increase significantly by 2050.

The BMW Group also makes intensive use of ocean transportation: Around 7,000 containers with a total of 31 million components are shipped daily. And approximately 10,000 BMW Group vehicles are “at sea” every day. This may be only a fraction of the shipments underway on maritime trading routes worldwide, but nevertheless, the company also aspires to “show its colours” in the area of sustainable sea transportation.

Therefore, in collaboration with UECC and the GoodShipping Program, the BMW Group is currently testing the practical usage of a biofuel (Bio Fuel Oil) on transportation vessels: This biofuel reduces CO2 emissions by 80 to 90 percent. The percentage of sulphur oxide is also lowered considerably (see video link). During the initially three-month trial period alone, the BMW Group is expected to save more than 400 tons of carbon emissions through the use of this fuel on journeys made by the M/V Autosky.

Also important: If Bio Fuel Oil (BFO) is used exclusively, the fuel fulfils the technical requirements for conventional ships’ engines. BFO, which is produced by the Dutch company GoodFuels – a pioneer in the sustainable biofuel sector – is manufactured from certified resources. Above all, this includes waste or residual products such as old cooking oil, as in this case.

UECC considers the BMW Group’s contribution towards paving the way for sustainable ocean transportation a crucial factor: “BMW Group’s participation to continue our trial on our ro-ro vessel M/V Autosky should therefore signal to the automotive sector that the means to decarbonise are readily available and that our vessels are equipped to meet this most important of challenges for the shipping industry,” emphasises Daniel Gent, Energy and Sustainability Manager, UECC. And Anniek Sluis, Growth Captain of the GoodShipping Program says: “Transportation logistics have a huge carbon impact, so the leadership shown by BMW Group to proactively take steps to decarbonise – and recognise that solutions are available – should act as a call for others in the sector to join us on this journey.”

Last year, the BMW Group already became the world‘s first automobile manufacturer to join the “Getting to Zero Coalition”. The aim is to help decarbonise international shipping.