Carbon reduction in the automobile industry is a hard lever and a breakthrough


Zhang Yu


After the release of the national "dual carbon" strategy, the entire automotive industry chain has set off a positive practice boom. In the short term, in order to meet the needs of carbon reduction, enterprises must put into a certain cost. Under the "double carbon" strategy, for enterprises and the entire industry, how to take into account and balance short-term investment and medium - and long-term interests is the current industry, including every enterprise in the industry chain are thinking about the problem, but also related to the whole industry chain can really form a long-term, sustainable, high-quality carbon reduction, and promote the industry's high-quality development of a virtuous cycle of important topics.


On September 20, the theme forum of "Ask Road Carbon Neutrality - 2023 Automotive Carbon Neutrality Summit" - "Implementing the strategy of 'Dual Carbon' and coordinating the short and medium term development of the industry" was successfully held in Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center Shantou Hall. 4 automotive industry experts from universities, enterprises and consulting institutions shared the theme of the forum. The theme forum was hosted by Zhu Zhiyu, director of the China Auto News Media Interview Center.


At the theme forum, Lin Zhenhong, professor of the College of Future Technology of South China University of Technology, believes that in the short-term decision-making of transportation energy transformation, the primary consideration is the battery technology route, charging technology route, vehicle network interaction and electric hydrogen interaction. Moreover, short-term decisions should be complementary to long-term decisions. Carbon neutrality is industry-wide, not transport or a sub-sector of transport. In the long-term decision-making context of transportation energy transition, not only carbon neutrality should be considered, but also many aspects such as socialist transportation power should be comprehensively considered.


In Lin Zhenhong's view, the development achievements of China's new energy vehicles and new energy power have made outstanding contributions to the cause of carbon neutrality in the world. In a period of unprecedented change in a century, further commitments to carbon reduction need to be cautious. It is time to downplay investments in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (especially passenger cars) and focus resources on clever synergies between power batteries and internal combustion engines (petrochemical and low-carbon synthetic fuels).


Tian Cheng, member of the Strategic Science and Technology Committee and director of the forward-looking Business Department of Zhongqi Information Technology (Tianjin) Co., LTD., proposed that the low-carbon transformation of the automobile industry enabled by digitalization is an opportunity to reshape the industrial chain. As a typical discrete industry, the automotive industry has a long industrial chain, involving many related industries, so as an OEM to manage both "themselves" and "the whole family", through a comprehensive product life cycle carbon footprint accounting, can achieve the whole industry chain data series, improve the entire industry chain carbon efficiency and low carbon competitiveness.


Tian Cheng introduced that the accounting method of the battery carbon footprint in the EU's "New Battery Law" is based on the Bill of materials (BOM), covering the whole process of production, manufacturing, recycling and other parts and raw materials, from the battery pack - module - cell - electrode - active material - material layer on layer, providing ideas and references for the vehicle industry chain to synergistic carbon reduction.


"There are two major pain points in calculating the full-cycle carbon footprint of vehicles: data collection is difficult, and data management is difficult." Tian Cheng pointed out that "digital tools are a necessary condition to solve the carbon accounting problem of automotive products." Based on this, Sinoautomotive Information Technology (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. has built a carbon emission data management system and information platform for the automotive industry, which can help Oems to carry out carbon emission management as the responsible person of the industry and the driver of the upstream and downstream industry chain in the future.


Yu Hao, deputy director of the environmental protection technology development Office of the testing engineering Department of China Automotive Engineering Research Institute Co., LTD., believes that the carbon emission reduction path of the automobile industry should be promoted simultaneously from three paths: management, technology and finance.


Among them, the carbon neutral policy first drives the low-carbon development of the automobile industry from the management path, which is mainly promoted from top to bottom. The current management path is mainly divided into four aspects: policies and regulations, path planning, standards and norms, and enterprise management. In terms of technology path, the automotive industry has a wide range of carbon emission-related technologies, mainly promoting the development of low-carbon technologies from three aspects: automobile use, automobile production and recycling. In the short term, car use and production will be the focus of carbon reduction, and in the long term, recycling will be an important way to achieve carbon neutrality. In terms of financial path, carbon emission has a strong correlation with the economy, and the goal of carbon neutrality will promote the transformation of China's industrial structure. At the same time, financial policies and financial instruments will promote the active, rapid and healthy low-carbon development of the automobile industry, such as carbon trading and carbon inclusive policies.


Shi Shuai, global partner of Roland Berger, believes that under the guidance of carbon neutrality goals, enterprises are facing multiple carbon reduction pressures from social stakeholders, markets and consumers, as well as shareholders, and decarbonization will become one of the core competitiveness of enterprises in the future, and supply chain carbon reduction competition will become the core initiative. There are seven main measures to decarbonize the automotive supply chain, including: using recycled raw materials for manufacturing; Reduce the use of raw materials and energy loss through process and equipment improvement; Use solar power, wind power and other clean electric energy; The use of biomass energy, electric energy and other clean heat energy, such as the use of dry process to manufacture batteries; Adopt new process flow, such as electric arc furnace steelmaking instead of blast furnace steelmaking; Use of new energy sources for transportation, such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; Using carbon capture, utilization and storage technology, mainly in the blast furnace steelmaking link. Among them, replacing clean energy and reducing the consumption of energy and raw materials are the main means of carbon reduction.


Shi Shuai said that top manufacturing companies are not only working with upstream suppliers to reduce carbon in the supply chain, but also trying to influence end customers to change the perception of the entire value chain. To achieve leadership in supply chain decarburization, three levels of action are required: First, carbon capacity improvement in product involvement and company location, selection of low-carbon processes and integrated design, and relocation of company and plant locations to low carbon cost areas. Second, set carbon reduction standards and work with suppliers to help them make the green transition. Finally, the low-carbon concept is passed on to end consumers to change their key purchasing factors and transfer some of the carbon reduction costs.


In addition, Shi Shuai also introduced a leading case study of an automotive group in electric vehicles, supply chain carbon reduction and low-carbon operations. It is reported that the group has established a full life cycle circular economy system, including renewable products, renewable parts, remanufactured parts, and waste materials recycling closed loop.


"For the automobile industry, carbon reduction has brought power but also brought pressure, in the long-term practice and innovation, we need to discuss some of the best path, how to decarbonize and reduce carbon in a more efficient way and way, seize the new opportunities for change, we need to break through from all aspects, seek results and efficiency, Balance short-term investments with long-term gains. I believe that with the joint efforts of all parties in the industry, the 'dual-carbon' strategy is not only a hard lever for environmental protection and carbon reduction, but also enables the automotive industry to explore some profit model breakthroughs." Theme forum host Zhu Zhiyu concluded.


Originally published by China Automotive News, September 25, 2023