General Motors is Leading a Sustainable Renewable Energy Transition in the U.S.

New solar agreement brings renewable power to the Midwest and will push GM beyond the 1 GW threshold of renewable electricity use

  • GM will source 180 MW of solar power from a new project in Arkansas developed by First Solar, Inc.
  • The solar modules will be sourced from First Solar, Inc. – America’s largest solar manufacturer.
  • The deal will source power for 100 percent of GM’s Wentzville Assembly and Lansing Delta Township Assembly, with the remaining power allocated to Lansing Grand River Assembly.
  • When the project comes online in 2023, GM expects to be over 60 percent of the way toward its goal of sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity for GM’s sites in the U.S. by 2030.
First Solar is a pioneer in PV module circularity, recovering as much as 90 percent of the materials, including its CadTel semiconductor, from every module processed at its recycling facilities in Ohio. (Photos and captions are courtesy of First Solar, Inc.)

DETROIT – General Motors announced today a new power purchase agreement for a 180-megawatt solar project, the equivalent of about 47,882 U.S. homes’ electricity use for one year ⁱ. The solar energy will come from a new solar field in Arkansas originally developed by First Solar, Inc. and will use photovoltaic solar modules. With this agreement, GM has the option to store energy for future use, a first for the company.

First Solar is the only U.S. company among the world’s 10 largest solar manufacturers, and operates the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar manufacturing footprint, which is located in Ohio. (Photos and captions are courtesy of First Solar, Inc.)

This deal marks a major milestone for GM – surpassing 1 gigawatt in renewable energy use, which equates to about 110 million LEDsⁱⁱ. General Motors is currently the 11th largest offtaker of renewable power in the U.S., and the largest offtaker in the manufacturing sector.

This power purchase agreement will supply three GM sites in the Midwest: Wentzville Assembly in Missouri and Michigan’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly will be fully powered by solar energy, and the remaining power will be allocated to Lansing Grand River Assembly.

First Solar advanced Series 6 PV modules are manufactured using a unique process that requires minimal energy, water and semiconductor material. (Photos and captions are courtesy of First Solar, Inc.)

GM’s investment supports the use of solar technology, innovated and developed by First Solar in the United States, to power factories that form the core of the Midwest’s industrial resurgence,” said Georges Antoun, First Solar chief commercial officer. “As America’s solar company, we’re proud to support GM’s manufacturing footprint in the Midwest with sustainable solar electricity, especially as it builds on over a century of automotive excellenceⁱⁱⁱ and innovates toward a zero-emissions future.”

Among the world’s nine largest solar manufacturers, First Solar is the only U.S.-headquartered company. First Solar has invested over $1 billion in expanding its Ohio factories, establishing the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar manufacturing footprint. First Solar has approximately 2,500 employees across the U.S., including more than 1,600 at its U.S. manufacturing facilities, and is working with more than 240 suppliers in Ohio.

First Solar’s proprietary thin film solar modules, developed at its R&D centers in California and Ohio, are manufactured using a unique process that requires less energy, water and semiconductor material. First Solar is also a pioneer in photovoltaic module circularity, recovering more than 90 percent of the materials, including its CadTel semiconductor, from every module processed at its recycling facilities in Ohio. Bringing cradle-to-cradle circularity to solar panel manufacturing, 1 kilogram of CadTel can be reused 41 times to generate 2 gigawatt-hours of clean energy, while displacing 1,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide over 1,230 years.

As GM continues its transition to an all-electric, zero-emissions future, it is imperative that we also invest in a cleaner grid that can support everything – from our factories to our vehicles,” said GM Chief Sustainability Officer Dane Parker. “Investments like these have increased access to renewable power, and with this deal we are exploring the next frontier of renewable energy, which integrate the principles of circularity and energy storage, among others.”

This new agreement follows the news that GM received a 2020 Green Power Leadership Award in the Excellence in Green Power Use category. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, GM has demonstrated exemplary action and dedication to significantly advancing the U.S. renewable energy market through voluntary green power use.

Earlier this year, GM announced two other renewable projects totaling 600 MW of solar energy, which are expected to be operational by 2023. General Motors continues to make significant progress in its use of renewable energy to power its operations, combining power purchase agreements, green tariffs and on-site renewable energy projects.

As General Motors works to meet its 100 percent renewable energy goal in the U.S., it will continue to build on its strategy to focus on market solutions to help reduce emissions near the communities where GM operates. How it sources the energy to power its facilities and products is essential to the company’s zero-emissions, all-electric vision.

For more information about General Motors’ sustainability commitments and progress toward its all-electric, zero-emissions goal, visit GM’s Sustainability Report. To learn about GM’s recent recognition by the EPA on its commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market, visit the EPA award recognition site.

i As calculated by the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator.

Images courtesy of First Solar, Inc. courtesy of General Motors

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