Editor's note: General Motors (GM)’s Director of Sustainability, David Tulauskas, GM’s Manager of Renewable Energy, Rob Threlkeld, WWF’s Director of U.S. Climate and Renewable Energy Policy, Marty Spitzer, and The Climate Group and TriplePundit came together at #GM100 on Wednesday, Sept. 21st to discuss GM’s these renewable energy goals! Read the TWITTER CHAT RECAP here!
The headlines buzzed last week when General Motors announced a new goal to obtain 100 percent of the energy required for its operations from renewable sources by 2050. This supersedes the company's previous goal of 125 megawatts by 2020, which GM says it will surpass before the end of this year.
By establishing this goal, the company joins the elite ranks of the RE100 -- a collaborative, global initiative of influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. It now numbers 70 companies, including Ikea, Autodesk, Bloomberg, BMW, Coca-Cola, Google, HP and many more.
In a press release, GM says it will “generate or source all electrical power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100 percent renewable energy — such as wind, sun and landfill gas — by 2050.”
“This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs," CEO Mary Barra said of the move. The company previously signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge in advance of COP21.
According to Chief Sustainability Officer David Tulauskus, GM saves approximately $5 million annually through the use of renewable power. All totaled, the company saved a total of $80 million through its renewable purchases. This comes from the combination of 22 facilities with solar arrays, three sites using landfill gas, and four that will soon have wind power installations.
Last year, GM used 9 terawatt hours to power its factories, offices and other facilities. At the same time, GM reduced the energy intensity of its facilities by 14.5 percent since 2010. While efforts to improve energy efficiency will continue, with more than 300 facilities still to be converted, the company's renewable power consumption can be expected to grow considerably. This summer, the company installed a solar array at its Rochester Operations Plant, among others.
The next steps in the company’s renewable journey include 10 megawatts of rooftop solar at the Jinqiao Cadillac assembly plant in Shanghai and 20 MW of solar carports covering 8,100 parking spaces at its Wuhan vehicle distribution center. These are in addition to two new wind projects scheduled to come online later this year to help power four manufacturing operations.
“We hope that through this leadership, other heavy manufacturing companies will be inspired to make the switch too," Amy Davidsen, U.S. executive director of the Climate Group, said of the latest development. "Business needs to remain active and engaged as we transition to a clean economy, a critical factor to help keep global warming well under two degrees and ensure a prosperous future for us all.”
GM will also implement energy storage, using Chevy Volt batteries to even out power fluctuations at its Milford Data Center in Michigan. This simulates what many expect to take place in a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) scenario, where employees could plug in their electric vehicles during work hours to provide additional storage to the grid, while ensuring the cars retain sufficient charge for their ride home.
Image courtesy of General Motors
RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org