Bosch is to be fully climate-neutral as early as next year. Its over 400 locations worldwide, and their engineering, manufacturing, and administrative facilities, will no longer leave a carbon footprint. This will make Bosch the first major industrial enterprise to achieve this ambitious goal in a little over a year.
“We see climate action as our responsibility, and believe we have to act now,” says Dr Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. In a bid to swiftly achieve carbon neutrality, Bosch will buy more green electricity in the near term and compensate for unavoidable CO2 emissions with carbon offsets. In the years to 2030, the company will gradually increase the share of renewable energy in the power that it generates and buys, and will invest a billion euros to boost its locations’ energy efficiency.
Once Bosch achieves climate neutrality, it will no longer adversely affect carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. The company is thus making an important contribution to the Paris climate agreement ratified in 2015, which calls for global warming to be kept well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. “Everyone has to contribute to climate action,” Denner says.
According to the International Energy Agency, manufacturing accounts for around 32 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. As it stands, Bosch emits around 3.3 million metric tons of carbon per year. The company has already reduced carbon emissions relative to its value creation by nearly 35 percent since 2007. “We are not starting from scratch. We have consistently exceeded our targets for the relative reduction of carbon emissions. Now the time has come for absolute targets. Let the final countdown begin,” Denner says.
Starting in 2020, Bosch will compensate for any residual and unavoidable carbon emissions primarily by buying green power from legacy plants and taking part in carbon offset programs. The company is investing in environmental projects, certified to rigorous standards, aimed at supporting social and ecological development. Carbon offsets are to be gradually scaled back by 2030, and Bosch is stepping up investments in renewable energies to this end. It also intends to enlarge company-owned photovoltaic systems such as those in place at the Nashik and Bidadi locations in India. The company expects to achieve a 10-fold increase in installed energy capacity with this move. Bosch will also sign long-term, exclusive supplier contracts with new wind and solar farms around the world, which can then operate profitably even without government subsidies.
Bosch India’s Nashik plant, which has 50,000 solar panels in place on roofs, parking lots, and the grounds, has reduced its carbon emissions by 23,000 tons and saved around 25,000 megawatt hours of energy since 2015.
Reducing the carbon footprint at Bidadi and Nashik plants
Bosch India is pursuing carbon neutrality by tapping locally available, natural sources of energy. Spurred on by the idea of supplying the location with fully renewable power during daytime hours, the team at the Nashik location began installing its first photovoltaic systems in 2015. It now has 50,000 solar panels in place on roofs, parking lots, and the grounds to generate around 20 percent of the power required by the plant each year.
The facility has reduced its carbon emissions by some 23,000 tons and saved around 25,000 megawatt hours of energy since 2015. This is equivalent to the power consumed by some 23,500 Indian households. Bosch experts have also developed an eco-friendly solution for cleaning the modules: water is recycled several times and purified using environmentally sound methods.
The Bidadi plant, located around 1,100 kilometres south of Nashik, has also embraced solar power. This location is able to cover around 30 percent of its energy needs with a photovoltaic system that also offers a further benefit: it provides ideal conditions for growing vegetables and herbs to keep the plant’s cafeteria well stocked with local produce. The sun is not the only resource put to good use at this location, which also channels rain into a small lake to replenish the water supply for the local population.
A billion euros – and connected solutions – for greater energy efficiency
Enhanced energy efficiency is a powerful tool for achieving carbon neutrality. Bosch will invest a billion euros in the energy efficiency of its plants and buildings over the next ten years. “We want to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in absolute terms, and not just relative to value creation,” Denner says.
By 2030, the company plans to save additional energy amounting to some 1.7 terawatt hours per year. Bosch says it has been vigorously pursuing environmental management practices for years. In 2018 alone, the company carried out around 500 energy-efficiency projects, reducing power consumption by close to 1.5 percent. Connected manufacturing has also become a key efficiency driver. Bosch has already deployed its proprietary energy platform, a part of the company’s portfolio of Industry 4.0 solutions, to more than 30 factories around the world. This platform is a cloud-based software solution that can track and control every single machine’s power consumption.
In the years up to 2030, the company will incur one billion euros in added costs by buying green electricity, engaging in carbon offset programs, and sourcing power from renewables.
In that same period, Bosch will invest one billion euros(Rs 7,644 crore) to boost in-house energy efficiency. This increase in energy efficiency will save Bosch around one billion euros, thereby bringing the company’s expenditure on carbon neutrality down from around two billion to one billion euros by 2030. “Carbon neutrality is doable and, if pursued with the necessary determination, can be achieved quickly. Our investments benefit not only us at Bosch, but humankind in general as well,” Denner says.