Thursday, April 30, 2015

GM Phases out Coal

Here's a small piece of good environmental news: General Motors has announced that it no longer burns coal. To power its factories GM relies on a mix of on-site power and electricity purchased from the power grid. The announcement applies only to on-site power, so by buying electricity GM still contributes to coal use. But it no longer buys or burns any itself. It still burns a lot of natural gas, but it is also moving into renewable sources:
GM has put huge solar arrays on top of and adjacent to factories in Ohio and Michigan. It made a deal to turn Detroit municipal waste into steam, which will help power one of its Detroit-area plants. In February, it struck a deal to use the output of a wind farm in Mexico to power operations there. Captured landfill gas—which is regarded as a renewable resource—provides about 43 percent of the electricity used at the company’s Fort Wayne Assembly Plant, which is one of the nation’s largest on-site generators of electricity. Such investments have enabled the company to retire all the on-site boilers that used to burn coal. General Motors is already 87 percent of the way toward its goal of using 125 megawatts of renewable energy generating capacity by 2020.
That's only 12 percent of GM's total energy use, but it's still something. GM's announcement shows how removed from the economic mainstream the whole "War on Coal" business is. American business doesn't need coal, and coal is being phased out no matter what Congress decides.

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