General Motors for the first time is procuring wind to power its manufacturing operations, enabling one of its Mexico facilities’ electricity needs to be run mostly on renewable energy. This addition of 34 megawatts of wind power allows GM to achieve its corporate goal of renewable energy use four years early.
GM says construction of the wind farm will begin in the second quarter of this year. When complete, more than 12 percent of the company’s North American energy consumption will come from renewable energy sources, up from 9 percent. GM’s current renewable energy use — comprised of solar, landfill gas and waste to energy — totals 104 megawatts against a goal of 125 megawatts by 2020.
Seventy-five percent of the energy coming from the wind turbines will power most of GM’s Toluca Complex sitting on 104 acres, making it the company’s largest user of renewable energy. The remaining capacity will help power its Silao, San Luis Potosi and Ramos Arizpe complexes. The use of renewable energy helps these facilities avoid nearly 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, GM says.
GM signed a power purchase agreement with Enel Green Power, which is developing and constructing a massive wind farm in Palo Alto, Mexico. The company’s use of 34 megawatts of energy is equivalent to the power produced by 17 wind turbines.
GM is a founding member of the Business Renewables Center, a collaborative platform launched earlier this month by the Rocky Mountain Institute. The center aims to accelerate corporate renewable energy procurement with a goal of nearly doubling U.S. capacity of wind and solar energy by 2025. It is part of a larger effort — the Corporate Renewables Partnership — that includes the World Wildlife Foundation, the World Resources Institute and the Business for Social Responsibility. The Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, of which GM is a signatory, set a framework for the partnership and guides the Business Renewables Center.
The automaker is also working on reducing waste in its operations. In 2013, GM’s headquarters in Detroit achieved zero-waste by diverting from the landfill the 5 million pounds of trash it produces annually. The complex recycles 49 percent of its total waste and converts the rest, including food scraps and used containers, to renewable energy that powers other nearby businesses.