BMW will harness winds to secure power and defend profits as costs rise due to Germany’s 550 billion euro plan to quit nuclear energy.
Four wind turbine towers will soon supply almost a quarter of the power used at BMW’s Leipzig plant, where the automaker builds the X1 SUV and soon the i3, its first electric car.
Daimler and Volkswagen are also moving in the same direction, as the German auto industry is seeking to sidestep the effects of a plan by Chancellor Angela Merkel to shut nuclear reactors and boost renewable energy. This shift has led to higher taxes on power bought from commercial producers.
A 47 percent increase in a clean-energy surcharge this year could add as much as 254 million euros to the combined power bills of auto manufacturers and parts suppliers in Germany. Since 2006, the surcharge has risen sixfold. Power for large manufacturers in Germany averaged 10.4 euro cents per kilowatt-hour last year, according to the country’s Economy Ministry. The same kilowatt-hour costs 7.25 euro cents in France and 6.76 euro cents in Romania.
In the U.S., an increase in domestic natural gas production has pushed industrial power prices to as low as 2 euro cents to 3 euro cents a kilowatt-hour.