Climate protection is renewable
The way in which we obtain energy is critical to the success of decarbonisation. One thing is certain: we need to bring an end to the use of fossil energy sources, and instead turn to generating energy from regenerative sources such as the sun, wind and water.
With great power consumption comes great responsibility: at 21.59 million MWh per year (2020), Volkswagen bears a unique responsibility and must serve as a role model when shaping this transformation. That is why the company is not only shifting its energy supply towards renewable sources but is also transforming the way it generates energy at its own facilities. Beyond this, Volkswagen also works to ensure that its customers have every opportunity to recharge with clean energy when using their vehicle.
Elli smooths the transition to green electricity
Electric vehicles (EVs) are especially climate-friendly if they run on electricity from renewable sources. And Elli is all about making it as easy as possible for drivers to use this green electricity.
Elli stands for Electric Life. German drivers who prefer to run on electricity generated in climate-friendly ways can visit the Elli website, where it takes just three mouse-clicks to switch to green power. Supplied as Volkswagen Naturstrom®, the energy supply is certified by Germany’s technical inspectorate, the TÜV. For every kilowatt-hour consumed, the same amount is fed back into the grid by wind, solar or hydroelectric power plants. Currently, most of the electricity comes from hydropower plants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But energy provider Volkswagen Kraftwerk is also actively investing in the further development of renewable energy by, for example, building wind and solar farms on company-owned sites.
As well as green electricity, Elli also offers a complete charging ecosystem. Drivers of Volkswagen ID. vehicles can use an ID.Charger wallbox to turn their homes into recharging stations, or use an app associated with their We Charge charging cards to find more than 150,000 public charging points throughout Europe. A single charging card allows them to fill up on climate-friendly green electricity while benefiting from exclusive tariffs.
Climate-friendly electricity from Austria
The reservoirs of the Kaprun hydroelectric power station – one of the largest in Europe – lie at the foot of the towering Glockner mountains in the Austrian Alps. The water gathering behind the dam walls, which soar to over 100 meters, is meltwater from the Pasterze Glacier on the Grossglockner, Austria’s tallest mountain. This power station – in actual fact we are talking about multiple hydropower stages on the different reservoirs – can meet 10 percent of Austria’s peak electricity demand with climate-friendly power.
Volkswagen benefits from Austria’s climate-friendly power as well. For example, our own green electricity supplier, Elli, offers it to businesses and private households in the form of Volkswagen Naturstrom®. Customers can, for instance, use it to charge our new, net carbon-neutral ID.3, making the car almost carbon-neutral to drive as well.
Renewable power for all
Germany and Europe need a lot more charging points for electric vehicles. Volkswagen has seized the initiative and is substantially expanding its on-site charging infrastructure. At the company’s largest charging installation in Wolfsburg, for example, there are already around 500 individual points.
Some 750 new outlets will be installed throughout Germany during 2021 – and for the first time, these will also include fast-charging stations rated at up to 300 kW. By the end of the year, up to 2,000 charging points will be operational at Volkswagen’s German sites – over 50 % more than in the previous year. They will be powered exclusively from renewable sources.
The company has no intention of slowing down: Volkswagen expects to have installed around 4,000 charging points on its German sites by 2025. The majority of these will be open to the public. Volkswagen dealerships in Germany are also introducing new charging options on a large scale. Alongside these projects, the Group is involved in international efforts to develop fast-charging networks – in the United States, China and Europe.
Bentley plant is carbon-neutral
Yes, luxury cars can be manufactured in a carbon-neutral way, too – even when the factory is more than 80 years old. The Bentley Motors plant in Crewe, England, was certified as a carbon-neutral manufacturing facility back in 2019.
The plant’s Carbon Trust certification confirms that it complies with the internationally recognized PAS 2060 carbon-neutrality standard, which recognizes measures to reduce the CO₂ emissions produced by manufacturing operations. For example, 100 % of the electricity used by Bentley is either generated by solar panels installed on the factory site, or else purchased as certified renewable energy. High-quality offsets are used to compensate for the impact of unavoidable emissions.
The photovoltaic power plant is the UK’s largest solar carport, featuring 10,000 solar panels over an area of 16,426 m2 and a total capacity of 7.7 MW.
Climate-friendly solar power
Volkswagen’s largest ever solar power facility went on stream at the company’s Chattanooga site in the USA back in 2013. With a peak output of 9.5 megawatts, it is the largest solar park operated by an automaker in the USA. Installed on an area of around 13 hectares on the factory site, the 33,600 or so crystalline solar panels produce 13,100 megawatt-hours of climate-friendly solar power each year. This is used directly in production, with the renewable energy providing 12.5 % of the electricity required when the plant is running at full capacity, and 100 % during downtimes.
India’s largest rooftop solar plant
In 2019, ŠKODA Auto Volkswagen India built one of India’s largest rooftop solar plants. Taking advantage of 300 days of sunshine per year, the 8.5 MWp installation meets 15 % of the manufacturing facility’s annual power requirement and is expected to reduce CO₂ emissions from current production processes by 9,000 metric tonnes per year. Complementing the construction of the solar plant at the factory, two major environmental projects were launched: ŠKODA Auto Volkswagen India invested in the reforestation of 100 hectares of degraded mangrove forest in Alibaug, Maharashtra, and also created an “Oxygen Park” in Aurangabad, with more than 15,000 trees. In 2020, the company started using biogas produced from agricultural waste.
Utilise new opportunities
We are experiencing an unmatched transformation in the way energy is generated: the proportion of renewable energy used has been increasing for years. New, dynamic economic sectors are arising which create jobs and prosperity for people. Now it is time to continue advancing this progress and make renewable energy available to everyone so that we can move away from using fossil energy sources worldwide. This is primarily the task of governments and the energy sector. Volkswagen also focuses on renewable energy sources for our own needs and to power our electric vehicles. 90% of the electricity purchased by Volkswagen is already drawn from such renewable sources.
Green rail transportation
In Germany alone, 190,000 freight wagons crisscross the country for Volkswagen every year, carrying an average of 900,000 vehicles from six of the Volkswagen brands (Volkswagen Passenger Cars, AUDI, ŠKODA, SEAT, Porsche and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles) to 40 hubs, distribution centers and ports. In addition, 38 long-haul trains and 157 local trains deliver materials to our manufacturing plants every day – a total of around 100,000 wagons a year.
To minimize the climate impact of these vital journeys, Volkswagen Group Logistics has switched rail transportation of all materials and vehicles within Germany over to green power. Under this arrangement, Deutsche Bahn sources electricity from wind farms and hydropower stations, saving more than 26,700 metric tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year compared with the standard electricity mix. This is just one of many actions we are taking to ensure that vehicles in the Volkswagen ID range reach customers with a net-zero carbon footprint.
ID.3 - combined power consumption in kWh/100 km: 15.4–14.5 (NEDC); CO₂ emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+
Joint climate action
Photovoltaic systems are a key element in the energy transition – and a good way for industrial companies in particular to reduce energy costs and CO₂ emissions. But many companies are shying away from investing in very large photovoltaic installations. At the same time, energy providers are finding it difficult to identify suitable sites for highly efficient large-scale solar plants. In this situation, collaboration between industry and energy providers makes a lot of sense, as the example of ŠKODA in Kosmonosy in the Czech Republic shows.
ŠKODA has made large roof areas available for photovoltaic systems on six buildings at its Service Training Center, installing new solar panels on over 2,200 m² in cooperation with ČEZ Solární, a subsidiary of energy services provider ČEZ ESCO, and energy provider ŠKO-ENERGO. While ŠKO-ENERGO acts as the facility operator, ŠKODA uses the installation to meet almost a quarter of the center’s electricity requirements with carbon-neutral power.
With a nominal power of 441 kilowatt-peak (kWp), the solar plant supplies a total of more than 450 MWh of energy per year. This can be temporarily stored in batteries with a capacity of 570 kWh and is also used to charge battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Fresh breeze and sunny views
Consistently charging with 100% green electricity is essential for CO2-neutral electric mobility. In comparison to the normal EU electricity mix, this can save almost half of all carbon emissions.
That is why Volkswagen as the first automotive manufacturer to directly support the expansion of renewable energies on a large scale. The construction of a large solar energy site in Tramm-Göthen in north eastern Germany is the first project. The energy company, RWE, will construct the plant by the end of 2021. It will have a total capacity of 170 million kilowatt hours per year. Consisting of roughly 420,000 solar modules, it is Germany’s largest independent solar project. The solar energy plant is constructed entirely without state subsidies.
By 2025, wind and solar parks will be constructed in various regions throughout Europe, generating a total of 7 terrawatt hours of additional renewable energy. The amount of renewable electricity in the electrical grid grows to match the rising numbers of ID. vehicles on the road. As a consequence, Volkswagen further improves the carbon footprint of the ID. family and successively creates the foundation for the net carbon neutral usage phase of its electric fleet.
Elegant climate protection
The Porsche Centre in Berlin-Adlershof has an especially aesthetic approach to generating climate-friendly solar electricity: a 25 m high photovoltaic pylon. The convex façade covering roughly 270 square metres generates up to 30,000 kWh of solar electricity per year using 7,776 solar cells. The electricity generated is not only used for the Porsche Centre itself. Visitors can also recharge their electric vehicles at Porsche free of charge.