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Recent Blog Comments
Member of the Bosch board of management responsible for environmental protection, manufacturing coordination and investment planning as well as the regions North and South America
How is Bosch progressing with its objective to reduce CO2 emissions?
Marks: We are on the right track. Last year we reduced our relative CO2 emissions by over four percent compared to 2007, with each division doing its bit. However, the economic crisis forced us to make drastic cuts to our 2009 investment in fixed assets, which was 40 percent lower than in 2008. Consequently some of the energy conservation projects we were planning, including long-term ones, have had to be postponed. This means our CO2 emissions have so far decreased less than originally anticipated, although we are expecting to make more headway in 2010.
What role do the buildings of the new Bosch headquarters in Singapore and Shanghai play?
Marks: These are highly symbolic landmark projects. This is the first time we have used environmentally friendly, sustainable Bosch technology to create prestigious new buildings in the booming Asian market. Our strategy in Asia is a logical continuation of what we have been doing in Germany for years: Providing associates, customers, suppliers, and local politicians with another major indication of our ecological commitment.
But surely the lion’s share of reductions could be achieved in production…
Marks: Very true. Between 70 and 80 percent of a location’s energy is used in production. This area has huge potential: A study conducted by the Drive and Control Technology division showed, for example, that its Elchingen plant could reduce the energy it uses by up to 25 percent. Now it’s a matter of consistently increasing this potential, using our own technology as far as possible.
What measures do the divisions need to take in order to achieve this?
Marks: The divisions have a huge responsibility. Despite the continuing severe economic pressures, they need to take the appropriate steps necessary to achieve our ambitious target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20 percent compared to 2007. Several of the divisions have been implementing highly promising approaches. For example, Diesel Systems achieved the biggest absolute CO2 decrease of 166,000 tons, which corresponds to approximately 40 percent of the reductions we made worldwide last year.
Is the number of encouraging examples increasing?
Marks: Yes. One example is the new wafer production plant in Reutlingen, which uses photovoltaic systems to cover some of its energy requirements. In Madrid we installed a solar heating system for heating drinking water; this now provides the majority of the hot water required by the cafeteria in the summer. A similarly successful emission reduction project has been implemented in Hallein, Austria, where we converted the entire heating system from natural gas to district heating that uses waste heat recovered from the local wood and paper industry. Several other sustainable building projects are in the pipeline – for example in Coimbatore, Moscow, Suzhou, and Yokohama.
Interview: Klaus Mittelbach - Executive Director of the ZVEI – German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association
The German government recently presented its new energy concept. Is it capable of fulfilling your expectations in terms of modernizing the energy system in Germany?
Mittelbach: Germany is facing enormous challenges when it comes to energy policies. There is no disputing the fact that the future belongs to renewable energies, particularly wind and solar power. We have now arrived at a point where further key steps have to be taken in order to ensure an ecological energy supply strategy. At the same time, we also have to safeguard supplies and keep energy costs under control. If we are to make more rapid progress in the field of climate protection, we have to make better use of the enormous energy saving potential already available to us today. For example, 70 billion kilowatt hours could be saved each year simply by using more energy-efficient products in electrical drives, lighting, and refrigerators and freezers. That's equivalent to half of the power consumed by all Germany's private households! Process automation is another area with great potential savings. Ultimately, energy efficiency is also our biggest source of energy – and that's not just true of Germany!
According to a study by the German Federal Environment Agency, Germany's power supply could be completely converted to renewable energies by 2050. Do you share this view and what role are renewable energies playing in the future-oriented market for climate-friendly electric cars?
Mittelbach: Technically speaking, it's definitely possible. However, the politicians have to put the right framework in place to support it. That's because the full potential of renewable energies can only be unlocked through the use of smart grids. As it stands, our grids are not designed to cope with the ever increasing, ever more flexible requirements of the energy market. Furthermore, a network of this type – also known as the “energy Internet”– is a key condition for electromobility. That's why we cannot allow this key technology of the 21st century to be reduced simply to the level of drivetrain electrification in vehicles – it has to be considered from an integrated perspective. In addition to modernizing and increasing the flexibility of the grid, this above all demands the development of affordable, powerful batteries and the construction of an appropriate charging infrastructure. If the right framework is put in place, Germany in its role as a high-tech location has a good opportunity to be a key player in shaping the international market for electromobility.
What has to happen now to drive forward the expansion of the grid?
Mittelbach: Financial and political support is essential for the conversion of the grids. Without it, it will be impossible to fulfill the demand for more flexibility and improved communication in the future. What companies need is more certainty when it comes to planning, and binding targets. Unless further development work is carried out on the grids, the full potential of renewable energies cannot be unlocked – and this is key to the ambitious climate protection goals set out by the German government. Consequently, modernization of the power grid has to be a top priority in the government's energy concept – as the ZVEI points out in its recent paper responding to the planned energy concept.
Photovoltaics, solar thermal systems and geothermal energy are not just environmentally friendly, but also promote decentralized energy supply. How do you envisage the interaction between large centralized power plants and decentralized units if renewable energies continue to expand?
Mittelbach: Without flexible grids, it will be impossible to achieve the necessary interaction between the small number of conventional power plants and numerous “mini power plants” employing renewable energies. At the same time, there's no doubt that decentralized energy generation will become increasingly important. In future, more and more households will not only consume power, but also produce it by feeding power from their own photovoltaic systems into the grid, for example. Here, too, electromobility has a key role to play, as the batteries in electric vehicles can also act as energy storage devices. If there is a high level of renewable energies at our disposal, it's possible to save power that can then be used in periods when less energy is available – a form of virtual power balancing, if you wish.
At the IFA exhibition, the ZVEI and two other organizations presented the “E-Haus”, a house in which the building technology and household appliances are networked and the electric car sources power from the dedicated photovoltaic system. How close are we to seeing this type of scenario in practical application?
Mittelbach: The technologies for intelligent home networking are already available, and what until recently still seemed to be some kind of Utopian vision has now become a reality. In private households, state-of-the-art technologies from the electrical industry in particular are networking systems that previously operated parallel to one another. Yet rather than simply being an end in itself, this type of technology offers specific benefits. Technical support systems (“Ambient Assisted Living”), such as in-house emergency call systems or sensor mats, help people to live an independent life in their own home for longer. In addition, telemedicine can shift certain aspects of healthcare to the individual's home environment. Intelligent interaction between cutting-edge technologies offers numerous other benefits in terms of comfort and safety, yet at the same time creates new opportunities to make optimum use of energy and cut energy costs at the same time.
In 2009, Bosch cut relative CO2 emissions by more than four percent compared to 2007
When it comes to climate change, Bosch provides a very wide range of sustainable solutions. These are reflected in key research and development activities, the expansion of business in fields such as renewable energies, and the company's commitment to its long-term climate objective. Bosch is making progress toward achieving its goal of cutting CO2 emissions at its manufacturing locations by at least 20 percent by 2020. Last year, the company reduced its relative CO2 emissions by more than four percent compared to 2007. However, the reductions achieved still fall short of the planned target. “The economic crisis forced us to make drastic cuts to our 2009 investment in fixed assets, which was 40 percent lower than in 2008. Consequently some of the energy conservation projects we were planning, including long-term ones, have had to be postponed”, says member of the Bosch board of management Peter J. Marks. In 2009, around 45 percent of the total R&D budget of 3.6 billion euros was invested in developing products that protect the environment and conserve resources. Every year, for example, Bosch makes some 400 million euros available for development work on powertrain electrification.
Bosch already generates one third of its total sales from “green” technology. This includes renewable energy-related products, a sector that is continuing to grow in importance. Even during the crisis year of 2009, Bosch managed to achieve a slight increase in this area of business, recording just under one billion euros. Now, in 2010, the company aims to generate sales of 1.5 billion euros. Bosch has already fitted the fuel-saving start-stop system in around 1.5 million vehicles and, thanks to sales of household appliances from the Super Efficiency Portfolio of BSH Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH in Europe in 2009, it has also been possible to save around 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. Bosch is also a leading international supplier of remanufactured used car parts. In 2009, the company remanufactured 2.5 million parts and in doing so emitted 23,000 fewer metric tons of CO2 than if the parts had been manufactured from scratch. Bosch expects the remanufacturing market in Europe to grow to 30 million products per year by 2015.
The drop in sales resulting from the financial and economic crisis placed considerable pressure on Bosch staff last year. Consequently, Bosch sought to preserve its core team as far as possible. At times, up to 100,000 associates – some 65,000 of them in Germany – were affected by reduced working hours. Together with employee representatives, the board of management devised a series of solutions – even for countries that did not have corresponding government-subsidized and collectively agreed schemes in place. This meant that, to a large extent, it was possible to maintain employment levels. Overall, the workforce was reduced by around 11,000 – or 4 percent – to a total of 270,000. The number of apprentices remained stable. Even in the crisis year 2009, Bosch offered apprenticeships to 6,500 young people worldwide, once again training far more people than it actually needs. On average, each Bosch associate completed two training courses last year.
The third global associate survey carried out by Bosch revealed that 80 percent of associates identify strongly with the company. For the first time, the question of balancing career and family life was included in the survey, with two thirds of associates giving a positive response. Well over 80 percent of associates also said they believed that the Bosch Group worldwide is making a valuable contribution to the environment and to society. Examples include the company's promotion of educational partnerships through the Knowledge Factory and its support for the “Jugend forscht” youth science competition for the 25th time in succession. In 2009, the Robert Bosch Stiftung once again approved more than 800 new projects in the fields of science, health, international relations, education, society, and culture, contributing a total of 64.1 million euros.
Every year, Bosch is investing some 400 million euros on powertrain electrification
Following the successful launch of Bosch parallel full-hybrid technology, the company is also increasingly investing in the development of powertrain technologies for all-electric vehicles. Today, some 800 Bosch associates worldwide develop technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles. Bosch makes some 400 million euros available for development work on powertrain electrification every year.
To explore and create the environment needed for electromobility, Bosch is working together with other companies in three government-funded projects that cover the major areas of electromobility development: “eperformance” deals with the electric vehicles themselves, “MeRegio-Mobil” deals with the integration of the electric vehicle into a future (batterycharging) infrastructure, and “BeMobility” deals with testing new mobility services. Within these projects, Bosch expertise contributes a great deal toward exploring, evaluating, and further developing technology, infrastructure, and mobility concepts. In the end, this will pave the way for a gradual roll-out of electric vehicles. Out of 100 million newly produced vehicles in 2020, Bosch expects to see some three million electric cars and plug-in hybrids, as well as six million hybrid vehicles.
Together with the lithium-ion batteries that are developed in the SB LiMotive joint venture set up with Samsung, Bosch is now in a position to supply the entire electric powertrain – from the energy storage medium to the electric motor. This means that Bosch has already established a complete product portfolio for hybrid and electric powertrains. It includes core components such as the power electronics which control the energy flows in hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as high-torque electric motors. Work is underway to prepare series production of power electronics components in Reutlingen and of electric motors in Hildesheim. Then there are the chargers which will allow plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles to recharge from the power socket.
The potential of electric vehicles can be exploited above all in the megacities, which are growing rapidly worldwide. If they are powered by electricity from renewable sources, electric cars can also play a significant role in reducing CO2 emissions. For driving over medium to long distances, economical diesel and gasoline engines, which are being continuously improved, come into their own. Hybrid vehicles are an option for short-, medium-, and longdistance driving, while fuel-cell vehicles are especially suitable for long distances. “This is why we are not limiting our efforts to just one powertrain – we are working to develop diesel and gasoline engines further, while at the same time making a concerted effort to electrify the powertrain,” Bulander says.
The Abstatt municipal council in the Heilbronn district is cooperating with the Bosch Group to enhance the local childcare facilities
At the Bosch Development Center in Abstatt a ground-breaking ceremony for a new children's daycare facility was held recently. On completion, the facility will offer 80 childcare places, 60 of which are to be filled by the children of Bosch associates. Due to open in mid-2011, these expanded facilities will offer mothers and fathers at Bosch greater flexibility at the workplace and prevent the loss of know-how. It will also enhance the Bosch Group's employer attraction.
This is the first time that Bosch has been actively involved in the construction of a children's daycare center. In this area, the company usually works with municipal councils or other childcare institutions. Bosch has already established such initiatives at 16 locations, including collaborations with municipal councils and external institutions, crèches, and parent initiatives. In addition, an internal childcare exchange has been set up on the Bosch intranet to enable parents at Bosch to find suitable childcare solutions faster and easier than before. After positive feedback, this service is now also available over the Internet. All the relevant information on creating the right balance between career and family life at Bosch can be found in the “Career and family” Internet portal.
Since 2008, Bosch is expanding its part-time job offering, with the aim of providing parents with better opportunities for reentering the workforce. “In these times of demographic change, we can no longer afford to forgo highly qualified and motivated workers with children. As childcare places are few and far between, it is crucial that we offer associates with young families suitable child-care facilities,” explains Bernhard Bihr, President of Bosch Engineering GmbH in Abstatt.