AMAG invests in Synhelion
October 4, 2021
The AMAG Group has a clear climate strategy and intends to become a climate-neutral company by 2025. It has established its own climate and innovation fund to support initiatives and start-ups that contribute to decarbonisation. Today, AMAG Group Ltd is entering into its first investment by taking a stake in the Swiss ETH spin-off Synhelion.
It is universally accepted that the future of the car is electric. Almost all major car manufacturers today are seeking to reduce carbon emissions in their new vehicles by moving to battery-powered electric models. Many new models will be coming onto the market in the years ahead. AMAG alone is launching eight new battery electric vehicles and seven new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in conjunction with its authorised retail partners this year. Plug-in vehicles are expected to reach a market share of 50% by 2025 and over 70% by 2030.
However, that still leaves other forms of transport and a sizeable proportion of cars whose CO2 emissions could also be reduced, not to mention the nearly 200’000 classic cars on the roads, whose owners will be keen to keep driving them.
One solution for such vehicles could be the adoption of synthetic fuels produced from CO2 using renewable energy.
From solar heat to solar fuels
The Swiss start-up Synhelion – an ETH spin-off – is developing a very interesting solution: its process uses not solar electricity, but solar heat. Solar fuels are produced from the heat of the sun, which drives a thermochemical reaction. In the reactor, carbon dioxide and water are converted into syngas, which is then processed into fuels such as solar petrol or solar diesel. Sunny regions offer ideal conditions for producing solar fuels, especially deserts and semi-arid regions that receive a lot of sunshine. The solar heat captured during the day can be stored in cost-effective thermal energy storage systems, enabling fuels to be produced around the clock. This storage option makes the solar fuel facilities autonomous and independent of a grid, enabling them to be rolled out rapidly and on a large scale. Economies of scale could bring fuel production costs down swiftly.
Solar fuels, like e-fuels, are not yet available on the market.
Synhelion SA is based in Lugano and develops ultra-modern solar technology aimed at reducing global CO2 emissions. The company was founded in 2016 with the purpose of bringing solar fuels to the market. A first pilot facility on the roof of the ETH Zurich entered into operation in 2019, and an industrial-scale plant will be built in 2022 and begin operating in 2023.
The first investment by the new AMAG climate and innovation fund
In 2021, the AMAG Group defined its course for the future and presented its climate strategy: to reduce, eliminate and, if necessary, offset. AMAG aims to become climate-neutral in its business operations by 2025 and also has the ambition to achieve a net zero carbon footprint by 2040. It has established its own climate fund to support initiatives and start-ups that contribute to decarbonisation, starting with immediate effect.
It is now making its first investment, in Synhelion. The two companies have agreed that AMAG Group Ltd will buy a stake in Synhelion SA.
As AMAG CEO Helmut Ruhl notes, “Even if the majority of cars on the road in future are electric, it is important that we find climate-neutral solutions for the existing fleet too. We owe as much to our cultural heritage, the traditional car. The Swiss start-up Synhelion has found a very exciting way of producing fuels from solar energy for use in conventional combustion engines. If it is possible to scale up production, making large volumes at a reasonable price, this technology could be a solution for various different forms of transport. We are trusting in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship to make our contribution to achieving Switzerland’s climate targets.”
Synhelion’s CEO and Founder, Gianluca Ambrosetti: “With our solar fuels, we can supplant fossil fuels and play an important part in decarbonising transport. Rapidly reducing CO2 emissions from transport will require a multi-pronged approach. Our technology offers an economical, efficient and quickly scalable solution, especially for existing vehicles and in the long-distance segment. We are delighted to have AMAG at our side as a strong partner in the quest for carbon-neutral mobility.”
About the AMAG Group
AMAG Group Ltd is a Swiss company. AMAG Import Ltd imports and distributes vehicles from the Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, CUPRA and VW Commercial Vehicles brands across Switzerland’s largest network of representatives (more than 450 dealerships and service partners). This also includes AMAG Automobil und Motoren AG, which has around 80 of its own garages, used car dealerships and body shops. It is also a Bentley support centre. A further subsidiary is AMAG First Ltd, the largest Porsche dealership organisation in Switzerland.
The AMAG Group also includes AMAG Leasing AG, a financial services provider, AMAG Parking Ltd, which manages various car parks, and AMAG Services AG, a licensee of Europcar and ubeeqo in Switzerland that offers valet parking at Swiss airports and chauffeur services across the country. mobilog Ltd has been offering logistics services to third parties since 2021, and the AMAG Group also operates an Innovation & Venture Lab. AMAG has been a co-owner of autoSense, the solution for digital vehicle networking, since 2018, and has offered a car subscription model via Clyde since 2019. It is also a partner of the Swiss Startup Factory.
The AMAG Group has undertaken to become climate-neutral in its business operations by 2025 and also has the ambition to achieve a net zero carbon footprint by 2040. It is committed to the 1.5-degree target under the Paris Climate Agreement and to the science-based targets.
AMAG Group Ltd employs some 6‘500 people, around 760 of whom are apprentices.
Synhelion is a global pioneer in the field of sustainable solar fuels. The clean energy company evolved from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) in 2016 to decarbonize transportation. Solar fuels can replace all types of fossil fuels as they are economically viable and fully compatible with existing global infrastructure. Synhelion’s unique technology converts concentrated solar heat into the hottest existing process heat on the market, making it possible to drive an unprecedented number of industrial processes such as fuel production and cement manufacturing with solar heat. The company already works with international partners such as Lufthansa Group, Wood, Eni, CEMEX, and Zurich Airport. For more information, please visit: www.synhelion.com
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