General Motors said today it plans to generate or source all electricity with renewable power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with wind, sun and/or landfill gas by 2050. This new renewable power goal, along with the pursuit of electrified vehicles and efficient manufacturing, is part of the company’s overall approach to strengthening its business and addressing climate change. It builds on GM previous commitment of using 125 megawatts of renewable power by 2020.
“This pursuit of renewable power benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.
During 2015, GM required 9 terawatt hours of electricity (9,000,000,000 kilowatts) to build its vehicles and power its offices, technical centers and warehouses around the world. To meet its new renewable energy goal, GM said it will continue to improve the energy efficiency of its operations while transitioning to clean sources for its power needs.
Solar Energy is Underway
GM is in the process of adding 30 megawatts of solar arrays at two facilities in China. Its Jinqiao Cadillac assembly plant in Shanghai have 10 megawatts of rooftop solar and 20 megawatts of solar carports, which will cover 8,100 parking spaces at the company’s vehicle distribution center parking lot in Wuhan.
GM has pioneered the use of renewable energy for more than 20 years, saving $80 million to date. The company has 22 facilities with solar arrays, three sites using landfill gas and four that will soon use wind. This experience GM said will help it scale renewable power use to all facilities globally.
GM claims it is in a unique position to meet this renewable power goal given its electric vehicle battery expertise. Energy storage can ultimately address the intermittent nature or reliability of wind and solar energy. GM is now using Chevrolet Volt batteries for energy storage at its Milford Proving Ground data center office. Five Volt batteries work with an adjacent solar array and two wind turbines to help supply power to the data center’s administrative offices.
GM is also joining RE100, a global collaborative initiative of businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity, working to increase demand for clean power. GM joins 69 companies that have made the RE100 pledge. As a founding member of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and Business Renewables Center, and one of the first signatories of the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, GM helps scale the availability and adoption of renewable energy. These organizations, spearheaded by the Rocky Mountain Institute, the World Wildlife Fund and the World Resources Institute, work to identify barriers to buying clean energy and develop solutions to meet the growing demand.