General Motors commits to 100% renewables by 2050 - Smart Energy Decisions

Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  September 14, 2016

GM commits to 100% renewable energy by 2050

Photo courtesy of GM 

Having just surpassed its 2020 goal of using 125 MW of renewable energy in its U.S. operations, General Motors Co. announced a bold new one. 

The Detroit-based auto manufacturer on Sept. 14 pledged to generate or source all electrical power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy — such as wind, sun and landfill gas — by 2050. In making the announcement, GM joined 69 other companies worldwide that have joined the RE100 initiative, which is led by international nonprofit The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. 

"Establishing a 100% renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact," GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a news release. "This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs."

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, GM  said it will continue to improve the energy efficiency of its operations while transitioning to clean sources for its power needs.

The company's current renewable energy capacity is 106 MW, but is expected to grow higher before the end of the year as series of wind projects come online, according to an interview with GM Global Renewable Energy Manager Rob Threlkeld on the company's green blog.

GM has been a corporate pioneer in renewable energy, beginning more than 20 years ago with a few small landfill gas projects. The company now 22 facilities with solar arrays, three sites using landfill gas and four that will soon benefit from wind. The company said Sept. 14 that it will draw on that experience to help scale renewable energy use to all facilities globally.

 Editor's note: Threlkeld is a Smart Energy Decisions advisory board member.

SED's take: GM's commitment to leadership in sourcing renewables is demonstrated once again with this move. We hope others in the industrial sector will take note and follow their example. - John Failla 

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