(AGENPARL) – ROME mer 21 giugno 2023
Edison Energy recently sat down with Monica Walker, Renewables and Energy Strategy Manager at General Motors (GM), to discuss the automaker’s comprehensive decarbonization strategy, its role as community stewards, and its mission of “Everybody in” as it transitions to an all-electric future.
Think cars, and you think GM. But for anyone paying attention, the largest automaker in the U.S. has been trailblazing the path to a more sustainable and all-electric future for everyone.
Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, and serving six continents, GM is now the 12th largest offtaker in the world of renewable power purchase agreements (according to the BNEF PPA Deal Tracker) – and the largest in the automotive industry – and is well on its way to meeting its timeline for sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources for its U.S. sites by 2025 and globally by 2035.
Aligning with Science Based Targets for scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, the automaker has plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 by transforming its portfolio and converting its factories.
“It all rolls up to our overall vision of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” said Monica Walker, Renewables and Energy Strategy Manager at GM. “One hundred percent renewable energy is fully aligned with that vision of a future with zero emissions. I think one of the main reasons we were able to get in so early is because of leadership’s early recognition of the importance. They saw the benefits of renewable energy for our business as well. In addition to sourcing, we had this more holistic strategy, which is what we call our four-pillar strategy.”
The approach focuses on sourcing renewables through a variety of methods such as onsite projects, power purchase agreements and green tariffs, while intermittency is addressed through energy storage. Energy efficiency is another pathway via investments in new technologies and efforts to conserve electricity in facilities, with GM spending approximately $20 million annually on energy efficiency and power demand projects.
“A lot of that also ties nicely into our resiliency and reliability-related processes at our facilities,” Walker said. “Many of our facilities participate in demand response programs, which again is good for the business from a grid reliability perspective and then also from a cost perspective.”
The final piece is advocating for strong decarbonization policies at the local and federal levels, with the company leaning in heavily for clean energy legislation and incentives.
Down with emissions
A major driver of GM’s strategy has been addressing Scope 2 emissions through renewables investments, primarily via virtual power purchase agreements.
“Edison has obviously been a fantastic partner in helping us with that journey,” Walker said. “We’ve also leaned into green tariffs, which have been great for providing local clean energy sources. We’ve done some onsite solar as well. As we look to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and examine GM’s overall footprint, scope 1 and 2 emissions are only two percent of our overall emissions. The remainder is Scope 3, which is primarily the use of sold products.”
Currently, those come largely from tailpipe emissions, followed closely by supplier emissions. To address these, GM has gathered learnings from its work on reducing emissions at its own facilities and is applying them to mitigating Scope 3.
“We’re starting to think about how we can better engage our suppliers,” Walker said. “In order to have our zero-emissions vision become reality, we really need all of our suppliers engaged and we want to help them with that journey.”
In 2021, GM began inviting Tier I suppliers to sign GM’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Partnership Pledge, which asks suppliers to commit to carbon neutrality for their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions relevant to products or services provided to GM. To achieve this, GM targeted specific carbon neutrality dates for each supplier industry based on available technology to achieve a realistic yet ambitious glidepath.
“We’re deeply engaged with our suppliers and helping them set strategies,” Walker said. “Every supplier is on a different part of their journey – they might have a fully established sustainability team working through these initiatives or they might have one person that works on sustainability in addition to wearing many other hats. We’ve got a great Global Purchasing and Supply Chain team working on sharing our learnings and opportunities, and gleaning learnings from them.”
In addition, GM has developed an energy “treasure hunt” process for suppliers to explore their facilities for waste reduction opportunities. The company also shares its learnings from its renewable energy investment journey, inviting suppliers to take advantage of resources where available as part of initiatives like the Clean Energy Buyers Alliance (CEBA), which offers discounted opportunities for suppliers working towards their ESG targets.
Stay tuned for the second part of our conversation with Monica! In the meantime, read previous installments of our Decarbonizing Industry series.
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