Emissions regulations are getting tighter, and car manufacturers are scrambling to bring their fleets up to date with parsimonious downsized engines and crazy gearboxes. Unfortunately, manufacturing small, efficient cars is still a big, dirty business. Nissan was one of the first to make big changes in the hope of lowering its production carbon footprint, and now GM has promised to use only renewable energy in its global operations by 2050.
True, 2050 is some way off, but with 350 operations spanning 59 countries General Motors faces a huge task if it is to make good on the pledge.
All those factories, offices and workshops required around 9 terawatt hours of energy in 2015, although the company does expect that figure to fall as its facilities slowly adopt more energy-efficient technologies.
At the moment, the move to renewable energy is mostly reliant on solar power. There are already 22 GM sites using solar panels to supply a chunk of their power demands, and the company is currently installing 30 megawatts worth of solar arrays to its Chinese facilities in Shanghai and Wuhan.
On top of the 22 current solar power sites, GM says three of its facilities use landfill gas and four more will soon be drawing on wind power.
"Establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact," says GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. "This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs."
The move to greener energy comes after GM signed the RE100 pledge, which is dedicated to increasing global demand for renewable energy.
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