Smart Energy Voices- Episode 77
General Motors Hit 100% RE in the U.S. a Generation Ahead of Schedule, with Rob Threlkeld
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In this episode of Smart Energy Voices, host John Failla shares a special keynote from Smart Energy Decisions’ recent Renewable Energy Forum. Rob Threlkeld, Global Manager of Sustainable Energy, Supply, and Reliability for General Motors, shares how General Motors reached its 100% renewable energy goal a whole generation ahead of schedule.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...
- GM’s goals for a zero-emission future [01:35]
- Renewable goals from leadership [06:50]
- The impact of the supply chain on a business [08:49]
- EVs as a pathway to decarbonization [11:46]
- Decarbonizing utility and transportation [21:52]
Transforming a company
The energy transformation at General Motors is the first part of the company’s bold vision of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. GM is a big energy purchaser but procurements account for only 1% of the company’s carbon emissions. Scaling zero emissions efforts requires the transportation industry’s transformation to electric vehicles. GM aims to be an all-electric vehicle manufacturer of all its light-duty vehicles by 2035. That goal requires the company, which has built ICE vehicles for the last 100 years, to transform into an all-electric vehicle manufacturer in just twelve years.
Moving transportation to decarbonization
How can the vehicle industry truly achieve zero emissions? Many changes will have to occur on the state and federal levels. Changing the car industry goes well beyond General Motors and will require everyone in the entire industry. It is critical to work closely with the supply chain to move it down the path of decarbonization. If the production of supplies is interrupted, vehicles can’t be made.
GM’s renewable energy U.S. footprint is about 3.5 terawatt hours, and the company has accumulated about 1500 megawatts of renewables across projects over several states and RTOs. The company looks specifically for projects located within its manufacturing footprint. GM has been working with utilities to create green tariff programs and to find ways to expand those programs beyond just General Motors.
GM recently announced the energy side of its business is enabling solutions in the whole energy ecosystem. Matching these renewable solutions with manufacturing will be critical to decarbonizing utility and transportation and ultimately driving a more resilient grid. As GM grows its EV portfolio, the company needs to ensure that demand matches the generation portfolio and continues to scale.
Resources & People Mentioned
- General Motors and DTE Energy are Making Michigan a Clean Energy Powerhouse
- GM Ventures
- Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC
Connect with Rob Threlkeld
Rob Threlkeld is the Global Manager of Sustainable Energy, Supply, and Reliability for General Motors, leading the company’s energy procurement efforts, including the commitment to meet the electricity needs of its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Threlkeld is responsible for leading the team that supports GM energy procurement and regulatory efforts, including negotiating power purchase agreements, natural gas, green tariffs, and engineering onsite renewable solutions for GM facilities across the globe, including opportunities associated with battery storage, behind-the-meter applications, and EV integration.
As part of GM’s Sustainable Workplaces team, Threlkeld shares best practices for renewable energy procurement with internal and external audiences, offering solutions for large and small businesses to benefit from renewables.
Threlkeld is a member of Smart Energy Decisions' Advisory Board. He serves as an industry advisor to the School of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. He is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers, the Engineering Society of Detroit, and the Solar Power International Education Council. This year, Energy Manager Today recognized Threlkeld as one of 50 top energy managers for driving GM and the energy management industry forward.
Threlkeld began his career at GM in 2000 as manager of the powerhouse and wastewater treatment plant operations at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio Assembly Complex. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Purdue University. He is a registered Certified Hazardous Material Manager, Certified Energy Manager, and Business Energy Professional.
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