Discover BMW’s Secret to Drive Greener Car Manufacturing

The automatic giant is the latest multinational to embrace forest-based biochar technology to meet carbon commitments.

Wed 11 Oct 23


The BMW Group is the latest multinational to embrace “woody biomass” to meet its climate commitments.

The announcement will see the Dingolfing plant use biochar technology to decarbonise its manufacturing process.

The plant is currently the group’s largest vehicle production site in Europe. Last year, 282,000 BMW vehicles rolled off its assembly lines.

The site manufactures many cars – including the 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Series and the new all-electric BMW iX. 

It also manufactures parts for electric vehicles and car bodies for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and is the centre for the spare parts logistics network.

The global automotive giant will use heat from regional biomass and the plant’s wood waste to meet 50% of its process hot water requirements from 2025.

BMW has signed a supply contract for just under 100,000 MWh of thermal energy per year with UP Energiewerke GmbH and will save the plant 20,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Energy supplies should begin by the second quarter of 2025, and the supply contract is for 20 years.

BMW has produced renders for the new plant. (Image Source: BMW Group).
How does Biochar technology work?

Biochar technology uses biomass, such as timber waste and converts the waste into a renewable energy source.

The process involves taking trees that have already been felled and stacked and placing the trees into a machine called a pyrolysis unit, which is the size of a shipping container.

The unit superheats the timber, breaking it down in a high-heat, oxygen-free environment. 

Once completed, the waste from pyrolysis is classified as “carbon-reducing material.”

As has been noted by @CNN10, interest in biomass has been growing in recent years.

BMW will construct a new biomass heating plant adjacent to the Dingolfing plant.

“This agreement is an important element of our future energy mix.” 

“It will make us more regional, more renewable and more resilient,” according to Plant Director Christoph Schröder. 

“Alongside green power, green heat will also be key to improving our environmental footprint.”  

According to Mr Schröder, BMW will be able to reduce their overall C02 emission levels b 10 to 15% using biochar alone.

Bioenergy Insight reports that the Dingolfing public works department has operated a biomass heating plant to supply public buildings and private households with heating.

E.ON company Bayernwerk Natur will operate the plant in a joint subsidiary UP Energiewerke GmbH, where both partners hold a 50% stake.

Together with Robert Heider, Stefan Pscheidl will be one of the two managing directors of UP Energiewerke GmbH.

“We are incredibly proud that our new heating plant will supply around 50% of the heat needed for the BMW Group’s largest production site in Europe from biomass,” Stefan Pscheidl said.

Mr Pscheidl noted that the project is “an important building block contributing to the energy transition.”

As noted in the video, E.ON is a long-time supporter of biomass projects.
More information about the heating plant

The heating plant will have three boilers operating year-round and its pallet and waste-wood shredder.

The plant is underwritten by UP Energiewerke, who will make a €35 million investment in the facility.

Underground pipes will carry the locally produced heat to the energy centre at the BMW Group vehicle plant, distributed across the site through the plant’s internal network. 

Construction of the heating plant will begin in late 2023.

“Creating a coherent overall concept, with regional loops and a strong partnership with the people responsible at the public works department and Bayernwerk Natur was important to us,” said Roland Zeller.

Mr Zeller is responsible for sustainability at the BMW Group site and helped develop the heating plant project. 

The project will ensure the heating plant – including its filter technology – will meet the latest environmental standards.

Wood and timber residues from regional forestry

About a quarter of the wood used as fuel will come from the BMW Group’s untreated waste wood – for example, single-use pallets and transport crates.

The wood is from PEFC-certified forests within a 60km radius of Dingolfing.

Footage courtesy of @pefcdeutschland.

As with the existing heating plant in Dingolfing, the partner for procuring wood is Biomasse Vertrieb Ostbayern (BVO) GmbH, which local forest owners and the Dingolfing public works department back.

Anton Heidobler, a forestry engineer and managing director of BVO, said the Bavarian industry faces challenges as climate change progresses.

“Largely coniferous stands must be converted to climate-stable mixed forests by planting more deciduous trees and changing tree species.”

“Young trees must also be tended in the early stages and mixed growth regulation promoted in favour of climate-resilient tree species.”

According to Mr Heidobler, a large portion of waste wood generated from regular and salvage harvesting can be recycled and converted into “woody biomass.”

“With the new heating plant,” Mr Heidobler said, “regional biomass makes environmental sense and ensures shorter distances for transportation and recycling.” 

According to Mr Heidobler, changing climate could drive a greater woody biomass supply. Footage courtesy of @FreeHighQualityDocumentaries.
The plant has strong support from the local government

Armin Grassinger, mayor of Dingolfing and chairman of the Stadtwerke Supervisory Board, has welcomed the new partnership.

“The city of Dingolfing has successfully partnered with BMW Group Plant Dingolfing in many different areas for decades,” he says.

“Construction of the new biomass heating plant is another example of how the community and business can work together to reduce CO2 emissions.” 

Dingolfing plant director Mr Schröder concluded by putting the new supply contract into context for the BMW Group. 

“Every location in our company’s global production network is pursuing its unique path to long-term decarbonisation of its production.”

For Lower Bavaria, Mr Schröder says, “regional availability of wood and biomass as a raw material is an important building block in our heating strategy.”

@BMWGroup is committed to sustainability.
IEA reports skyrocketing demand for biomass

The announcement supports research published by Wood Central, showing that demand for biomass will boom as the world decarbonises.

In the Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050 report, the IEA supports a shift away from bioenergy produced by food crops – known as ‘conventional bioenergy feedstocks’ with a focus on organic waste streams, forest and wood residues, short-rotation woody crops and forestry plantings.

Source: IEA 2021: Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050 Report, Licence: CC BY 4.0.

A key finding from the report looks at biomass supply.

“As well as allowing a much greater level of bioenergy crop production on marginal lands, short-rotation woody crops can produce twice as much bioenergy per hectare as many conventional bioenergy crops.”

The IEA supports an increase in short-rotation woody bioenergy production from marginal lands.

In addition, it supports a switch from conventional bioenergy crops to advanced short-rotation woody crops leading to sequestering 190 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.

Source: IEA 2021: Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050 Report, Licence: CC BY 4.0.

This will reduce Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use emissions by 140 million tonnes of CO2 relative to today.

“Sustainably managed forest plantations established outside of existing forested land can increase carbon stocks while at the same time sustainably producing biomass,” according to the report.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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