For decades, the BMW Group has been at the forefront of sustainability and innovation in the automotive industry. In 2001, BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, South Carolina, started using recycled methane gas from a local landfill to provide electricity and hot water for the plant. This groundbreaking project has reduced more than 9,200 tons of CO2 emissions each year, which is equivalent to eliminating CO2 emissions from vehicles driving 23.5 million miles every year.
The success of the project has prompted BMW Manufacturing to extend its partnership with Ameresco, Inc. for an additional eight years. Ameresco constructed the 9.5-mile pipeline from the Palmetto Landfill to Plant Spartanburg, and this extension will reduce nearly 74,000 tons of CO2 emissions over the next eight years.
Reducing GHG Emissions & Saving Millions a Year
This initiative has proven to be beneficial for Upstate South Carolina, as it has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, while simultaneously saving BMW millions of dollars annually. The methane gas generated from the landfill is captured using a multitude of gas extraction wells and then subjected to a process that removes moisture and impurities, followed by compression at the Recovery and Compression Station located within the landfill. The compressed methane then travels through a pipeline that stretches over 9.5 miles to reach Plant Spartanburg.
At this point, the gas is cleaned and compressed once more before being utilized to power two highly efficient gas turbines located at the Energy Center of the plant. The turbines produce electricity and heat water throughout the expansive eight million-square-foot Spartanburg facility, accounting for approximately 20% of the plant’s overall energy consumption.
The project has been far ahead of its time, with sustainability being in its infancy when the partnership began. Ameresco designed and built the pipeline and gas processing and compression facilities, and BMW has invested nearly $12.4 billion in its South Carolina operations since 1992. BMW Manufacturing is the largest BMW Group plant in the world, producing more than 1,500 vehicles each day. The plant plays a critical role in meeting the high demand for BMW Sports Activity Vehicles and Coupes in the US and around the world, with nearly 60% of its vehicles shipped to about 120 global markets.
In 2022, more than 60 percent of BMW vehicles sold in the US came from Plant Spartanburg.
The plant’s model portfolio includes six top-selling BMW X models, five Motorsport X models, and three plug-in hybrid electric vehicle X models. The factory has an annual production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles and employs more than 11,000 people.
Intelligent resource management and the fight against climate change are expressions of BMW’s sense of responsibility. The BMW Group aims to reduce CO2 emissions per vehicle by 40% from 2019 levels by 2030 across the spectrum. Landfills are the third-largest human-generated source of methane emissions in the United States. Reducing methane emissions is one of the best ways to mitigate climate change, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.