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Kerstin Manger - Specialist Sustainability Strategy Kerstin Manger - Specialist Sustainability Strategy

The Many Shades of Green

Kerstin Manger, Specialist Sustainability Strategy, explains what green energy means for ZF.

Energy is just as important to ZF as steel and aluminum. To achieve the CO2 neutrality stipulated in the Group strategy by 2040, our use of energy will have to meet sustainability criteria much more effectively than it does today. We discussed the associated challenges and opportunities with Kerstin Manger, Specialist Sustainability Strategy at ZF.

As we face the urgent need to cut CO2 emissions, the whole world, including ZF, is talking about the use of green power. But what exactly is it?
Unfortunately, there is no general definition of the term. At ZF, we use "green power" as a generic term for green electricity, green gas and green hydrogen. To be considered "green", electricity, gas and hydrogen must come from renewable sources. These include wind and solar energy, hydropower, geothermal energy as well as energy from certain types of biomass and from tidal power stations. We have already defined our criteria for "green electricity". This definition applies worldwide at all our locations and is of course binding for our energy buyers.
Kerstin Manger is Specialist Sustainability Strategy at ZF.

So how does ZF define green electricity?
We refer to green electricity when it comes from one of the sources I just mentioned. It either comes from our own facilities or from a supplier that can present a reputable guarantee of origin that we recognize. For ZF, green electricity comes neither from nuclear power nor from power plants that burn natural gas or garbage. We are committed to using electricity solely from renewable sources through 2030.

Green power also includes biogas energy sources that could be used for heating and for generating process heat. What is the current status?
A note in advance: Fossil natural gas is not and will never be green gas. Natural gas is sometimes referred to as "climate-neutral gas". This is misleading though. On paper, natural gas comes out as "climate-neutral" on balance by virtue of its users purchasing additional offsetting certificates. These certificates that offset shortfalls in CO2 reduction targets are available, for example, for CO2-reducing measures such as reforestation projects. We reject this "buying your way out of a problem".
"We are committed to using electricity solely from renewable sources through 2030."

Is gas from renewable sources always "green"?
Not necessarily. The gas must be produced with excess wind or solar power, for instance, for it to be considered generated sustainably. We also accept gas made from the remains of plants and animals that have no further use. Use of energy crops must never compete with the cultivation of plant-based food.

How important is the self-generated electricity, using photovoltaic systems, for example?
Energy self-sufficiency is not a feasible option here as the quantities are too small. At the Schweinfurt location in Germany, for instance, we currently cover about two percent of the electricity demand using self-generated solar energy. We estimate that with the current state of the art, we could produce about seven to ten percent maximum ourselves.

Are there plans to expand energy self-generation?
Yes, where it is economically viable, we are doing just that. Nevertheless, we will continue to source the bulk of green electricity externally in the future. Here, we are also expanding long-term supply agreements, like the ones we signed in spring 2022 with suppliers Statkraft and Enovos Energie Deutschland or in July 2022 with RWE Supply & Trading GmbH (Nordsee offshore wind farm).

As early as 2030, ZF intends to emit 80 percent less CO2 than in 2019. Ten years later, the company aims to be climate neutral. Can this herculean task really be achieved
We are convinced that we will achieve the 80 percent target by using green energy and by optimizing and cutting the energy we use. The last 20 percent proves more difficult, we realize that. Where we do not manage to cut greenhouse gas emissions further, we will contribute to climate protection in another way. However, we must ensure that these measures are additional and lasting. Only then they will be sustainable and only then global warming will be limited.

As early as 2030, ZF intends to emit
80 %
less CO2 than in 2019.

Further Information

How ZF Thinks and Acts Sustainably

Sustainability encompasses far more than environmental protection. It also includes topics such as social responsibility, equal rights and equal opportunities. ZF has already achieved a great deal in this regard, and has also set itself ambitious targets for the future. Find out here what they are – and how ZF is ensuring more sustainability.