Sustainability in the automotive industry
A detailed look at how some of the world’s most recognised auto manufacturers are embracing green technologies and initiatives.
German automaker Audi has came a long way since introducing its first car to the world 110 years ago in 1910. In recent times, Audi has experimented with sustainable modes of transport including the Audi A3 e-tron along with its more recent selection of e-TFSI plug-in hybrid engine range.
Furthermore, Audi is pushing for lower carbon emissions and aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. It states on its website that it’s ‘not afraid to rethink everything that goes into an Audi model and what cars we put on the road”.
South Korea’s Hyundai is well known for offering an extensive range of hybrid vehicles that have quickly become popular among road users across the globe. The automakers BlueDrive initiative equips its vehicles with some of the greenest engines and technology on the market which considerably lowers the co2 output of these vehicles.
The company also has initiatives in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions right from the factory and is in the process of establishing a GHG inventory for our manufacturing operations in the U.S. In compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements
The Japanese automaker states that environmental sustainability is at the heart of its environmental mission. The company is striving to develop future mobility solutions that work for both people and the planet whilst operating a business that is profitable, sustainable and a great place to work
Toyota has had a massive impact in the sales of clean, hybrid and electric vehicles such as the very popular Prius model, which were introduced all the way back in 1997!
Tesla has remained at the top of the tree in terms of electric vehicle offerings. Whilst they may not be quite so readily available to the general public due to higher prices than some other manufacturers, Tesla has introduced some really cool technology such as next-generation battery technology to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles.
Elon Musk’s Tesla has also been responsible for some innovative home energy products such as its Powerwall energy storage system.
Although Porsche is traditionally known for its high-powered, big-engined petrol vehicles, the German automaker has been experimenting with hybrid and electric vehicle technology in recent times with the introduction of its E-Hybrid engines found in some of its Cayenne and Panamera models.
Porsche is also actively offsetting co2 emissions by directly funding certified projects in addition to its use of green energy in its production facilities
Whilst the German auto-giant may not be the best example of sustainability in the automotive industry thanks to its widespread Diesel emissions scandal back in 2015, it has slowly started regaining public confidence and trust thanks to its fresh, future-focused initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from transportation.
The company has a selection of hybrid vehicles under its belt such as the Golf GTE and the Passat GTE in addition to the e-Golf electric vehicle. Some of its new 2020 range of vehicles are introducing mild hybrid tech to consumers which aims to reduce the co2 emissions of its latest vehicles.
Ford’s blueprint for the road ahead is to keep emissions low for its new vehicles through the latest green technology available for engines whilst also utilising smart and sustainable manufacturing solutions which will intern help the company to reach its goal to reduce its carbon footprint.
Ford’s latest range of vehicles such as the Mustang Mach-E further symbolises the company’s commitment to greener vehicles and operations both now, and well into the future.
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Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere