A BMW plant in Germany

BMW is exploring alternative energy investments in order to reduce its dependence on natural gas, with the threat of an embargo on Russian gas likely to cause major disruption to the industry.

The German car manufacturer is pushing forward with plans to invest more heavily in solar, geothermal and hydrogen energy in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the likely repercussions. BMW relied on natural gas for 54% of its energy consumption in 2021, and would struggle in the face of a ban on importing gas from Russia.

BMW production chief Milan Nedeljkovic said that should such a move be made it would have a major effect not just on his company but the entire industry.

“Our industry accounts for around 37% of German natural gas consumption,” said Nedeljkovic. “Not just BMW but the entire sector would come to a standstill.”

The carmaker is looking into the addition of solar panels to its plants, and also the use of hydrogen, which may have the potential to fully replace natural gas demand according to Nedeljkovic.

BMW’s plans are part of a wider shit across German industry away from Russian gas, with the nation preparing for the possibility of Russian supplies becoming unavailable, either due to sanctions or a decision by Moscow to cut off supplies.

The firm has also announced that a new plant in Debrecen, Hungary will be the first in the world to run completely on green energy, mostly from the use of solar panels.

Geothermal energy is also being explored according to Nedeljkovic, but the higher costs involved mean this may not be viable.

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