Did you know that the Volkswagen Group owns a power plant at each of its two production plants in Wolfsburg, Germany? They provide most of the power consumed at these plants – as well as five others in Germany – and generate heat for the plants and the city of Wolfsburg.

The power plants are currently run on coal, but plans are now in the works to switch over to natural gas – which will cut annual CO2 emissions by 1,5-million tonnes, representing a reduction of 60 percent, or the combined annual CO2 emissions of 870 000 cars! Seen from a global perspective, this means that the Group’s CO2 emissions will drop by a whopping 15 percent.

“The reconstruction project will allow us to sustainably generate power and heat in an eco-friendly manner at the Wolfsburg site, which will also benefit the city of Wolfsburg as a whole,” says Michael Heinemann, spokesman of the Board of Directors at VW Kraftwerk GmbH.

The modernisation package decided by the Group’s directors includes the construction of multiple gas and steam turbine plants that will replace the existing coal-fired boilers. The investment amounts to about €400 million (R5,8 billion), and the new plant is scheduled to be completed between 2021 and 2022.

“Should a technology for the cost-efficient production of synthetic natural gas emerge in the future, for instance one based on power-to-gas systems, we could even achieve complete CO2 neutrality. This would represent a viable long-term complement to the shift to renewable energy sources,” says Heinemann.

However, carbon dioxide is not the only substance that will be cut at the new plants: water consumption, waste generation and all other emissions will also be reduced by around 50 percent on average.

“We are pushing the electrification of our vehicles, while at the same time making traditional engines cleaner and more efficient. This also entails setting new, ambitious goals for production. We are dedicated to reducing the entire environmental load of the Volkswagen Group by 45 percent in 2025 as compared with 2010,” comments CEO Matthias Müller.

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