Melissa Burden for the Detroit News
General Motors Co. said Wednesday it is committing to power all of its global operations completely by renewable energy by 2050. The Detroit automaker said its goal is to generate or source electrical power for 350 facilities in 59 countries with renewable wind, sun and landfill gas energy during the next three-plus decades. This year, GM expects to have 3.8 percent of electricity use come from renewable resources.
“Establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact,” GM Chairwoman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs.”
The automaker also said it is joining RE100, a global business collaborative of 69 companies that are pledging 100 percent renewable electricity use. GM isn’t the only automaker — India-based Tata Motors and Germany-based BMW Group also are on the list. BMW has a goal to source more than two-thirds of electricity from renewable energy by 2020. Other businesses who have pledged include IKEA, Google, HP and Steelcase.
“This bold and ambitious commitment from General Motors will undoubtedly catch the attention of the global automotive industry,” Amy Davidsen, North America executive director at the nonprofit The Climate Group that is associated with the list, said in a statement. “GM has already saved millions of dollars by using renewable energy, and like any smart business that recognizes an investment opportunity, they want to seize it fully. We hope that through this leadership, other heavy manufacturing companies will be inspired to make the switch too.”
Last year, GM needed 9 terawatt hours of electricity to build vehicles and power offices, tech centers and warehouses globally. GM said it will continually improve energy efficiency in its facilities and transition to clean sources of power.
Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global renewable energy manager, said the carmaker is building on more than 20 years of renewable energy use. “Costs have come down and economics are working,” Threlkeld said.
Threlkeld added that said he expects most of the electric generation will come from wind and solar and said GM’s biggest challenge will be financial costs, and policy and regulatory barriers in certain countries.
GM had a goal of using 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. The automaker said it expects to surpass that figure when two new wind energy projects begin later this year to help power four manufacturing plants.