General Motors (NYSE:GM) to rely entirely on renewable energy by 2050
General Motors, otherwise known as GM (NYSE:GM), plans to generate or source all electrical power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100 percent renewable energy — described as including wind, sun and landfill gas — by the year 2050.
“Establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact. This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO earlier this week.
Committing to this new renewable energy goal is part of the company’s overall approach to strengthening its business, improving communities and addressing climate change, it said.
GM continues manufacturing in the pursuit of electrified cars. An article in the New York Times last week started: “A first affordable long-range electric car, which I drove last month and which blew my mind, is not a Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). I had to fly from Silicon Valley to Detroit to drive it because the vehicle was invented not by a celebrated start-up, but by that hoariest cliché of tarnished American manufacturing glory, Chevrolet, which is owned by General Motors.”
The company also announced it is joining RE100, a global collaborative initiative of businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity, working to increase demand for clean power.
In 2015, GM required 9 terawatt hours of electricity to build its vehicles and power its offices, technical centers and warehouses around the world. To meet its new renewable energy goal, it says it will continue to improve the energy efficiency of its operations while “transitioning to clean sources for its power needs.”
Today GM saves $5 million annually from using renewable energy, a number it anticipates will increase as more projects come online and the supply of renewable energy increases. In addition, the company said it “anticipates costs to install and produce renewable energy will continue to decrease, resulting in more bottom-line returns.”
This new renewable energy commitment builds on its previous goal to promote the use of 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. The company expects to exceed this when two new wind projects come online later this year to help power four manufacturing operations.
GM said it is in the process of adding 30 megawatts of solar arrays at two facilities in China. Its Jinqiao Cadillac assembly plant in Shanghai will feature 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.
Its use of renewable energy for more than 20 years has saved $80 million to date, the company said. GM said it has 22 facilities with solar arrays, three sites using landfill gas and four that will soon benefit from wind. This experience “will help GM scale renewable energy use to all facilities globally,” it said.
“GM is in a unique position to meet this renewable energy goal given its electric vehicle battery expertise. Energy storage can ultimately address the intermittency 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,” the company added.
Business commitment to renewable energy today also serves as a positive tick by customers on a company’s brand. In another industry sector where consumers increasingly dictate direction, Unilever (LON:ULVR) one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products, last year set itself a clear target as covered here on Entelligent.com: to be ‘carbon positive’ in its operations by 2030.
Dina Medland is an independent writer, editor and commentator with a strong focus on issues around corporate governance, ethics, the workings of the boardroom and sustainable business. She is on the team of contributors to @ForbesEurope and is an ex-Financial Times staff member who has been a regular contributor in recent years. Further details about her background and a portfolio of work – including her commercially sponsored blog ‘Board Talk’ are available on her website http://www.dinamedland.com