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AUTOMAKER GREEN—AND NOT JUST MOOLA

IN SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS NEWS, General Motors recently announced that it had secured all of the renewable energy it needs to power all of its U.S. facilities by 2025, fully 25 years ahead of earlier projections. 

CBS Money Watch, September 26, 2022, reports, “The Detroit automaker, which initially targeted the year 2050 to achieve its all-renewables goal, said it secured sourcing agreements from 16 renewable energy plants across 10 states. In early 2021, GM moved up its all-renewables target date to 2030, then advanced that goal by five years this week.”

“The five-year difference,” CBS Money Watch says, “will help erase an estimated 1 million metric tons of carbon emissions, equal to the emissions produced by burning 1 billion pounds of coal, GM said.”

Money Watch cites Miranda Ballentine, CEO of Clean Energy Buyers Association: “General Motors has been a trailblazer in corporate clean energy procurement for manufacturing facilities for over a decade.”

An Equinox EV. GM plans to have EVs as 40 percent of its products by 2025, which in auto industry terms is “just around the corner.” GM’s Mary Barra recently visited CBS Mornings as a venue to unveil the Chevrolet Equinox EV, coming next year as a 2024 model. It’s a mid-size crossover, what GM sees as a sweet spot of the market. (I’d agree wholeheartedly about the sweet spot, having had a Honda Crosstour since 2012—even before the first SimanaitisSays.)

Come to think of it, I was really ahead of the curve: In 2008, I circumnavigated the Los Angeles Basin in a Project Driveway adventure with Chevy’s Equinox fuel-cell EV. 

A Chevy Equinox fuel-cell EV, c. 2008.

The new Equinox is based on GM’s Ultium concept, as described here in SimanaitisSays’ Skateboarding into the Future. Cost-effective product development comes from a common EV platform across several model sizes and lines. 

A Chevy Equinox EV, coming next year as a 2024 model.

Barra told CBS that the price of the Equinox EV will be around $30,000. By contrast, the equivalently sized Tesla Model X starts at $98,940 for its Long Range variant; the Plaid version starts at $120,440. 

Green Production Facilities. Employing renewable energy is only one aspect of automaker goals of green production. More than a decade ago, for example, Toyota addressed the challenge of landfill waste in its production facilities. As reported by Allan Gerlat in waste360.com, November 10, 2011, “The automaker said it has achieved the near-zero waste to landfill goal in each of the past three years. Toyota’s vehicle distribution division recycled 94 percent of waste it generated.”

I recall being at a seminar with Toyota’s Bill Reinhardt when he said this even got down to things like recycling the wood of toothpicks from company cafeterias.

On a Personal Note. As a born-again Californian since 1979, I am pleased to see my home state ranking well in terms of renewable energy.  There seem to be a zillion different interpretations of this on the Internet, no doubt based on different timeframes and definitions. However, two sources appear especially replete with interesting facts: the U.S. Energy Information Administration and cleanpower.org

Note, eia includes conventional hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass as renewable generation sources. American Clean Power focuses on wind, solar, and energy storage. As in early studies, conventional hydro is not included because of its large-scale environmental impact.   

The eia says, “In the first half of 2022, 24% of U.S. electricity generation came from renewable sources.”

Image from eia, September 9, 2022.

The American Clean Power website says that 14.0 precent of all electricity produced in the U.S. came from wind, solar, and energy storage power plants. California is second only to Texas in this regard. Curiously, California’s 32.7 percent of electricity coming from renewables ranks it 10th in the country; Texas’s 25.3 percent, 14th. Iowa is first in this, with 59.5 percent; this state ranks third in terms of operating wind, solar, and energy storage capacity.

All, good food for environmental thought. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022

2 comments on “AUTOMAKER GREEN—AND NOT JUST MOOLA

  1. Mike B
    November 2, 2022

    Is that “hydro” share of the total all hydro, or just small hydro? If the latter, it’s surprising; if the former, note that California doesn’t consider traditional hydro (big dams, etc.) to be renewable energy. So the fact that Pacific NW power has traditionally been mostly from big hydro doesn’t, by California views, make it renewable – better than coal, perhaps, but not formally renewable. Yes, nitpicking, sorry.

    • simanaitissays
      November 2, 2022

      Note eia inclues all hydro. The other says solar, wind and energy storage, which is a bit ambiguous. Certainly not heavy hydro, one would assume. “Energy storage” usually means battery arrays of solar at night and wind during calms. (Of course there are other unorthodox schemes of energy storage: pumping water up when excess power exists; even that odd “push railcars up and let them generate power rolling back down.”)
      And, agreed, there’s large hydro (the green’s “non-renewable”) vs small hydro (little turbines sunk in stream). And wave action. And tidal.

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