More than half of all the electricity used at the General Motors Orion assembly plant—where the company is producing the Chevy Bolt—comes from renewable energy. In fact, fully 54 percent of power used at the plant comes from renewable energy, specifically landfill gas and a solar array. That’s earned it 8th place in the latest On-site Renewables Challenge update from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The majoirty of Orion's electricity comes from an on-site genreator that uses local landfill gas, but the sity also has a 350 kilowatt. GM said that the combined power from the landfill gas and solar energy makes it GM's largest single producer and user of renewable energy.
The Bolt, a mass-produced electric vehicle (EV) which will come to market before Tesla’s Model 3 in 2017, is set to be a game-changer for the company—if not the entire automotive industry. In fact earlier this year techno-zeitgeist magazine Wired penned “How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car.”
“Building the Bolt EV in a facility that is 54 percent powered by clean energy further adds to the car’s environmental credentials,” said Alicia Boler-Davis, GM vice president of global manufacturing. “It’s an example of how we live our global sustainable manufacturing commitment while improving our bottom line.” Because the US Auto Industry is the largest industry in the country, companies see the environmental and financial benefit of transitioning to renewables.
General Motors already is making a lot of its own green energy, as of 2016 its already using 106 megawatts of solar, landfill gas, and waste-to-energy at its facilities today, according to the EPA. It also will surpass its 2020 goal of using 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020.
GM has been committed to solar for some time now, especially after the financial crisis and bankruptcy they experienced in 2009. The company isn’t just doing this to increase public opinion, either, it’s doing it to save money. The Orion plant, 30 miles north of Detroit, alone saves GM $1 million annually in energy costs.
GM has been boosting its green energy credentials for a while. It is a founder and one of 60 businesses to launch the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which was established to help companies understand the benefit of turning to renewables and to provide assistance to do so. This past May (2016), REBA announced its members’ goal of deploying 60 gigawatts (GW) of corporate renewable energy, which GM will likely play a big part in. It’s also a part of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, which was designed to assist corporations and utility companies in the transition to renewable energy.
The GM Orion assembly plant also met EPA’s Energy Star Challenge by limiting its energy-use during operations by 67 percent within two years. "EPA applauds Orion Assembly for its innovation in generating green power from an onsite landfill gas energy system and for taking a leadership position on the environment," said James Critchfield, manager of the Green Power Partnership.
Other major car manufacturers are increasing their use of renewables, too. For instance, in Texas Toyota is building one of the country’s greenest US headquarters. Meanwhile, back in the auto industry’s birthplace, Detroit-based Ford installed the largest solar array in Michigan in 2014.Tweet