It’s a big commitment — GM has 350 operations in 59 countries — and it also promises big financial savings. GM currently saves $5 million annually from using renewable energy and it expects this number will increase as more projects come online and the supply of renewable energy increases. In addition, the company expects costs to install and produce renewable energy will continue to decrease, resulting in more bottom-line returns.
“Establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact,” said GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra in a statement.
GM says using renewable energy over the past 20 years has saved the company $80 million to date. The company has 22 facilities with solar arrays, three sites using landfill gas and four that will soon use wind power.
This new renewable energy goal, along with its focus on electric vehicles and efficient manufacturing, is part of GM’s overall approach to strengthening its business, improving communities and addressing climate change. GM is also joining RE100, a global collaborative initiative of businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity, working to increase demand for clean power.
GM previously set a goal to use 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.
The company is also in the process of adding 30 megawatts of solar arrays at two facilities in China. Its Jinqiao Cadillac assembly plant in Shanghai will include 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.
Additionally, GM is pursing energy storage, which can 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.
In addition to saving money on energy bills through clean energy sources, GM has lowered its business costs and found new sources of revenue in its other environmental sustainability efforts. The company has generated $1 billion in new revenue streams from recycling and reuse, according to GM’s most recent sustainability report. And it expects a new project to capture and reuse stormwater at the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly project will save the plant nearly $2 million annually.