This 516-kilowatt ground-mount photovoltaic solar array at GM’s factory in Hamtramck, Mich. is an example of technologies the company will use to reach its goal five years early. - Photo: GM

This 516-kilowatt ground-mount photovoltaic solar array at GM’s factory in Hamtramck, Mich. is an example of technologies the company will use to reach its goal five years early.

Photo: GM

On Sept. 30, General Motors announced plans to source 100% renewable energy for its U.S. sites by 2025.

This sets the company five years ahead of its goal, and 25 years ahead of an initial target set in 2016. GM is aiming to avoid 1 million metric tons of carbon emissions that would have been produced between 2025 and 2030.

“We know climate action is a priority and every company must push itself to decarbonize further and faster,” said GM chief sustainability officer Kristen Siemen. “That’s what we are doing by aiming to achieve 100% renewable energy five years earlier in the U.S. as we continue to advance on our commitment to lead an all-electric, carbon-neutral future.”

Earlier this year, GM announced its Science Based Targets, as well as plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 with a goal to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035. The company has committed to invest $35 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles and plans to introduce more than 30 electric vehicle models globally by 2025.

GM's climate commitments are focused on four pillars. The company plans to invest $35 billion in EVs and AVs and will introduce more than 30 electric vehicle models by 2025. - Photo: GM

GM's climate commitments are focused on four pillars. The company plans to invest $35 billion in EVs and AVs and will introduce more than 30 electric vehicle models by 2025.

Photo: GM

To reach its climate commitments, GM says it is focusing renewable energy efforts on four pillars:

  1. Increasing Energy Efficiency: GM's energy goals begin with reducing energy consumption by improving energy efficiency. For 10 years, GM has been awarded the EPA Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for its energy efficiency efforts.
  2. Sourcing Renewables: While it works to minimize the amount of energy required to run its facilities, GM also sources renewable energy through direct investment, green tariffs, and power purchase agreements. This is the main avenue through which GM will achieve its renewable energy goal.
  3. Addressing Intermittency: GM is creating technology to store renewable energy over the medium and long term, so its power consumption is not disrupted by external fluctuations.
  4. Policy Advocacy: Policy efforts are essential to expand transmission, create microgrids that help deploy renewable energy, and enable markets to price these solutions to enable a carbon-free resilient power system. GM supports policies that enable a carbon-free, resilient power system.

GM also announced that it is collaborating with PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization, and TimberRock, a technology-enabled energy company, to track the real-time carbon emissions at GM’s facilities associated with electricity use. This enables GM to make  decisions about its energy consumption based on the carbon output of the grid at a given time. The initiative is expected to eventually expand to include the carbon emissions associated with customers’ electric vehicles, allowing GM to understand the fuller scope of the emissions it aims to address and helping the company decide where to invest renewable energy efforts to achieve the greatest impact beyond its own operations.

“We're delighted that GM has raised the ambition of their 100% renewable electricity journey and brought forward their target to 2025,” said Sam Kimmins, head of RE100 at Climate Group. “This is the sort of urgent action that is needed to halve global carbon emissions by 2030 and tackle the climate crisis. We need all businesses to commit to using 100% renewable electricity and drive the renewable power transition at the pace and scale required.”

GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra previously declared the company would prioritize equitable climate action to help ensure its all-electric future is inclusive for its current and future workforce, customers, and communities that may be more likely to disproportionately experience the effects of climate change. GM also announced that it has signed on to participate in Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to help advance the commercialization of technology. GM’s $25 million Climate Equity Fund also supports grassroots and community organizations that are working on the front lines of climate justice.

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