Volvo says it now has its first "climate-neutral" factory, marking a step toward the Swedish automaker's goal of reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing. An engine plant in Skövde, Sweden achieved climate-neutral status when it switched to renewable heating on Jan. 1, Volvo said.
Under an agreement with a local provider, all heating for the Skövde plant is generated from waste incineration, biomass, and recycled biofuels, according to Volvo. All electricity for the Skövde factory has been generated from renewable sources since 2008, as has the electricity for all other European Volvo plants.
The push for renewable energy is part of Volvo's effort to make all of its factories climate neutral by 2025. Skövde isn't the only place where progress is being made, according to the company. Volvo said that in 2016 it installed a new district heating system at its factory in Ghent, Belgium that reduced carbon emissions by 40 percent.
Efforts to make manufacturing greener complement Volvo's ambitious electrification plans. Last year, the automaker announced that it would sell only hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric cars beginning in 2019. It was the first commitment by a major legacy automaker to end production of standalone internal-combustion powertrains, and heralded a number of similar pronouncements by other companies.
But green cars will need green factories. If cars burn less gasoline or diesel, the carbon emissions related to making them will become a larger share of the overall carbon footprint. Truly reducing the auto industry's impact on the environment will require a holistic approach.