Bosch is backing fuel cell technology over batteries in its bid for electric automotive systems
The company aims to be carbon neutral by the end of this year, the first global multinational to do this across its 400 locations. “We will achieve this goal,” said Denner. “At the end of 2019, we achieved carbon neutrality for all our locations in Germany; as of today, we are 70 percent of the way to achieving this worldwide.”
This includes investing in energy efficiency, increasing the proportion of renewables in its energy supply, buying in more renewable power, and offsetting unavoidable carbon emissions. “The share of carbon offsets will be significantly lower than planned in 2020, at just 25 percent instead of nearly 50 percent. In other words, we are making faster progress than we expected.”
The move requires a broad technology offensive that not only sets out a battery-electric path to sustainable mobility, but especially renewable synthetic fuels and fuel cells as the only way Europe can become climate-neutral by 2050, he says.
“Today’s hydrogen applications need to make it out of field testing and into the real economy,” he said, appealing to policymakers to support the necessary technologies: “This will enable us to achieve even ambitious climate targets.”
“Hydrogen is becoming increasingly important, both in the automotive industry and in building technology. Bosch is very well prepared for this,” he said. Bosch is working with two European technology developers, Powercell in Sweden and Ceres Power in the UK, on fuel cell technologies. The Powercell development of fuel cell stacks for use in electric vehicles is set for launch in 2022. By 2030, one in eight newly registered heavy trucks could be powered by a fuel cell.
“As climate action is stepped up, electrical solutions will be limited in the near term to complementing the combustion solutions that have dominated up to now,” Denner said. That is why Bosch is pursuing technology-neutral powertrain development. According to Bosch market research, two out of every three newly registered vehicles in 2030 will still run on diesel or petrol, with or without a hybrid option, even with plans to ban such vehicles by 2040 or 2050.
This is not to dismiss battery powertrains. Bosch says it will invest €100m in the production of electrical powertrain systems at its plants in Eisenach and Hildesheim in Germany.
The company is also looking at building power. It will invest an additional €100m in its heat-pump business and intends to expand its development work. Bosch is also working with Ceres on stationary fuel cell systems using solid oxide fuels to power buildings such as data centres. The company says this market will be worth more than €20bn by 2030.