The company’s vision is absolutely clear: Audi wants to become a provider of carbon-neutral mobility. To achieve this goal, the company is partnering with energy providers to support the expansion of renewable energy sources. The aim is to work with these different partners to build new wind and solar farms in various European countries by 2025, which together are expected to generate around 5 terawatt hours of additional green power. This corresponds to an installed capacity of about 250 new wind turbines. The aim is for the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources by the cooperation partners to increase along with the increasing proportion of electric cars. The first project, a solar park in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, is being developed in collaboration with the German utility company RWE. The plant will come on stream in 2022 and is designed for a total capacity of 170 million kilowatt hours. Encompassing nearly 420,000 solar panels, it will be one of the largest independent solar parks in Germany. Further projects are to quickly follow.
Partnering with energy providers is the next step in achieving the company’s vision of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To this end, Audi is examining the entire life cycle of its models, which in professional circles is divided into three stages: the manufacturing stage (starting with the extraction of raw materials through component manufacturing and automobile production), the utilization stage (vehicle operation including the supply of fuel or electricity), and recycling. As an intermediate goal, Audi aims to reduce the carbon footprint of its fleet by 30 percent over its life cycle by 2025. By partnering with European energy suppliers, Audi aims to successively decarbonize the utilization stage.
When it comes to electric cars, one of the most important factors is the power used to charge them. Electric cars do not emit carbon on the road, but the generation of electricity also produces carbon emissions – far more when the power is generated from fossil fuels than from renewable energy sources. That’s why Audi will soon be directly funding the generation of renewable electricity – the partnership with energy suppliers is also intended to cover charging processes that aren’t yet carried out with green power today. The objective is to increase the share of electricity generated by the partners from renewable sources in conjunction with the further increase in the share of electric cars on the road. Audi customers can, for example, already use the green power solutions offered by Volkswagen subsidiary Elli (Electric Life) to charge their cars at home today. For charging on the road, the IONITY charging network and many other charging point operators already rely on green power.
“We’re working hard to make carbon-neutral mobility possible. The expansion of renewable energy sources at an industrial scale is the next, logical step. Our first project, a massive solar park in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, will come on stream as early as 2022,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development. In this context, the company is taking a regional approach and prioritizing the implementation of projects in areas where charging demand is particularly high. By helping generate additional green power, Audi and its partners are ensuring that the renewable energy already available does not compete with the consumption of the Audi fleet. Over the long term, the company plans to expand to other regions, including outside Europe.
A comprehensive approach: decarbonizing the manufacturing stage
Audi is also focusing on the manufacturing stage, and already launched a CO2 program in the supply chain back in 2018 to work with its direct suppliers to identify potential savings. Closed material cycles, gradually increasing the use of secondary materials, the use of recycled materials in plastic components, and the use of green power all offer concrete potential for reducing carbon emissions.
Audi intends to contractually agree on the implementation of these measures with its suppliers for upcoming orders and for them to be fully in force by 2025. The use of green power has already been an integral part of supplier contracts with HV battery cell manufacturers since 2018. The company analyzes the effectiveness of these measures on the basis of life cycle analyses and has them certified by independent third parties. This comprehensive program not only encompasses direct suppliers, but also subsuppliers.
All of the company’s activities to reduce the environmental footprint of Audi sites worldwide are consolidated in its Mission:Zero environmental program. A key goal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions at all sites* by 2025. Audi Brussels already achieved this goal in 2018, Audi Hungary followed in 2020. All of Audi’s European production sites exclusively source green power. Audi e-tron GT1 manufacturing at Böllinger Höfe and Audi Q4 e-tron manufacturing at the Volkswagen factory in Zwickau are both net-zero* production processes. The same also applies to the delivery of all Audi e-tron models to customers in Europe and the United States – all carbon emissions from the supply chain, production, and logistics that cannot be prevented are offset through carbon credits that support measures to combat climate change. These are certified by the non-profit organizations The Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard.
*Audi understands net-zero carbon emissions to mean a situation in which, after other possible reduction measures have been exhausted, the company offsets the carbon emitted by Audi’s products or activities and/or the carbon emissions that currently cannot be avoided in the supply chain, manufacturing, and recycling of Audi vehicles through voluntary offsetting projects carried out worldwide. In this context, carbon emissions generated during a vehicle’s utilization stage, i.e. from the time it is delivered to the customer, are not taken into account.