Waste Not
Detroit Renewable Energy Steaming Up GM Assembly Plant

General Motors and Detroit Renewable Energy have announced a renewable energy project to turn solid municipal waste from the city of Detroit into process steam that will be used to heat and cool portions of GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

When the project is operational, 58 percent of the plant’s energy needs will come from renewable energy, making Detroit-Hamtramck the top GM facility in the world by percentage of renewable energy used.

“We have 107 landfill-free facilities across the globe that recycle or reuse their waste, with some of it turned into energy,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of renewable energy. “It made sense to explore this option with DRE at Detroit-Hamtramck, given their quality work in helping us manage our energy use at some of our other GM plants.”

Detroit Renewable says it processes more than a million tons of municipal solid waste into electric power and steam while also recycling nearly 40,000 tons of metal annually.

The steam will travel 8,300 feet through a pipe originating at DRE and ending at Detroit-Hamtramck, the assembly facility for Chevy Volts.

“We have a long history of working with GM in providing energy to its assembly plants,” said DRE chairman and CEO Steven White. “To incorporate a sustainable and renewable energy source into the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant makes a significant addition to the value chain.”

The steam pipe will provide 15.8 megawatts of renewable energy to the plant, which contributes 12 percent of GM’s overall goal of putting 125 megawatts of renewable energy into its energy portfolio by 2020.

Construction of the new steam line and associated energy infrastructure will begin later this month and become operational next spring.

This is the latest in a string of notable sustainability measures GM has taken in recent months, including opening its fifth LEED-certified data center, and donating scrap sound-absorption material to a Detroit nonprofit for use as insulation in waterproof, self-heating coats that become sleeping bags for the homeless.

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