The carmaker, which relied on natural gas for 54% of its energy consumption in 2021, is examining where it could add solar panels to its plants and plans with local authorities to transport hydrogen to its plant in Leipzig, Germany.
Milan Nedeljkovic said: “It is very suitable for reducing the demand for hydrogen gas or even compensating for it in full.
“Our industry is responsible for about 37% of German natural gas costs,” he said when asked what would happen to BMW’s plant if gas supplies to Russia were cut off. “Not just BMW, the whole sector will come to a standstill.”
BMW’s plans reflect widespread preparations across German industry to move away from Russian gas and to make rations available in the event of a sudden shutdown.
Outside of Germany, a new plant in Debrecen, Hungary, which BMW says will be the world’s first auto plant to run entirely without fossil fuels, will rely heavily on solar energy, Nedelkazovic said, adding that carmakers are also looking at using geothermal energy.
Geothermal energy is more stable than climate-dependent renewable energy but has seen no increase or investment compared to wind or solar energy in part due to high progress costs and complex licensing process for drilling.
Asked about the potential for nuclear energy, which supplies about half of Hungary’s energy but is being phased out in Germany, Nedeljkovic said: “Nuclear power can be a stabilizing factor, especially in these turbulent times. . ”