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GM Commits To 100% Renewable Energy By 2050 (cleantechnica.com) 114

We've seen a number of entities announce plans to operate with 100% renewable energy over the years. Costa Rica, for example, has gone 76 straight days using 100% renewable electricity. General Motors is the latest company to release a roadmap to achieving 100% renewable energy. The catch? It won't be until 2050. CleanTechnica reports: American multinational General Motors, or GM, has committed to generating or sourcing 100% of the electricity for its operations across 59 countries from 100% renewable energy by 2050. GM made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing that it planned to generate or source all its electrical power needs for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy such as wind, solar, and landfill gas, by 2050. In turn, the company has joined the 100% renewable energy campaign RE100, lending its considerable global business weight to an already important and successful campaign. "Establishing a 100% renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact," said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. "This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs."
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GM Commits To 100% Renewable Energy By 2050

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  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @09:57PM (#52905437)

    This does a few things.

    1) It's zero risk. No one will remember this in 30+ years.
    2) It'll get them a lot press now because people will actually believe them.
    3) Eventually all energy will be renewables. That's how progress works.

    P.T. Barnum should have put out this press release.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Worse, this has nothing to do with the vehicles that they sell - it's just using renewables to power their plants, which is a no-brainer because the cost of renewable energy is dropping year-over-year.
      • Way to aim low GM. Honda will have self powered cars by then.

        Subaru's plant in Indiana has been Zero Landfill for sometime. [subaru.com]

        • GM can haul that into existence at will. These things are not profitable. What is profitable are large cars.

          Ironically, with renewable, clean energy, large cars will come roaring back. We exist in a confused, overlapped time where efficiency is considered useful for the environment and conservation of fossil fuels, though the latter concern is more innumeracy than reality.

        • I thought all cars were self-powered? The last time I pushed a car was about twenty years ago. And only to get it somewhere where it could be fixed.
    • by AJWM ( 19027 )

      So, about the time fusion power becomes commercially viable then?

    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      Well, a good excuse to basically say to every consumer that "they should buy a brand new car because their old car is literally evil and killing the planet" is an excuse i don't think they will let it pass.
      They're just waiting it gets tempting enough so people "fall" for it.

    • I worked with Intel. I learnt there that their energy requirement is almost fulfilled through green energy. Intel manufactures solar cells for their own need, using waste material.
    • You forgot to mention no consequences whatsoever even if someone does remember in 30 years. They pledge to do something, but commit to nothing if they fail. I pledge I will colonize Mars by 2050, personally, with no help from anyone else. And if I don't, oh well, I pledge it now so until 2050 you gotta give me credit for it.

  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @09:59PM (#52905443)

    Doesn't mean much if they keep making gas-guzzling SUVs. Their current #1 selling vehicle is the Silverado pickup, #2 is the Equinox SUV, which, despite being billed as "fuel efficient", is still only rated for 21 MPG in city driving.

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @10:16PM (#52905515)

      This article can pretty much begin and end with this point.

      GM saying their factories will be 100% renewable is about like RJ Reynolds saying their factories will be 100% smoke free.

      • Ehhhhhh, energy costs for making a car are not trivial. There is a lot of chemistry and whatnot. Remember all the studies on the net losing nature of electric cars once you include maufacturing and eventual disposal of the batteries.

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          Obviously. But almost ONE HALF of all oil usage in the US is for gasoline. Are you an engineer? If you were, you'd should know that you don't solve a problem by optimizing the 1% first.

          Oh, and "all the studies" was a couple of studies, and they were seriously flawed/biased in many ways. The main one was using a some worst-case assumptions about the source of electricity used to *power* the cars (which, still has by FAR the greatest impact on the "CO2 footprint" of an electric car, of course). In count

        • Ehhhhhh, energy costs for making a car are not trivial. There is a lot of chemistry and whatnot. Remember all the studies on the net losing nature of electric cars once you include maufacturing and eventual disposal of the batteries.

          For a typical car, less than one third of its lifetime energy consumption is produced at the time of its consumption. That figure is based on the assumption that you will keep your car about eight or nine years, like we used to [dot.gov] so it's actually even less than that since (in the USA) we're keeping them for over eleven years now (an all-time record for us.) For a hybrid, it might be half. But if it uses substantially less energy over its lifetime, then there might be a net benefit.

          The best deal in cars when i

    • by haruchai ( 17472 )

      For an ICE SUV that's pretty good city mileage. But I'd like to see many more hybrids with at least 40 miles all-electric range.

  • Dude, how do you make sure the electrons are only from renewable power? Are they a different color or shape or something?
  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @10:24PM (#52905541)
    commit to anything
  • So what happens if they just like don't do it? Nothing?

    By 2050, I'm going to elected The Most Awesome Super Stud in USA. Wadda think about that? Who wants to do a press release for me?

  • When the rest of the world becomes mandatory 100% renewable 20 years before that.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      And where are you going to get the power? Green energy isn't going to fit the bill. Environmentalists whine on anything from natural gas to nuclear. If you go the nuclear route, those plants still won't be online in 20 years(it takes on average 20-25 years to build a nuke plant) due to the environmental laws. Hell it takes upwards of 15 years just to build a NG plant in most of the western world.

    • "mandatory"...?! You see, that's problem with the Left...they ignore math, facts, and logic and rely on their power to "mandate things". Even if their ideas are unworkable, unfeasible, counterproductive, or even just plain stupid. Here's an example: there are two types of wind generation that are superior to windmills. One is a quadcopter kind of thing with a transmission cable that flies up and finds the jetstream, then turns its rotors to "passive", and just sits there, generating electricity. 24hrs a da
  • Sell GM stock now (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zapadnik ( 2965889 )
    If Google couldn't get solar work how are GM going to ? oh, I know, taxpayer subsidies - where wealth is transferred from the poor to the rich in the form of high-tech boondoggles.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Maybe they are planning to follow Tesla. Batteries will be big business as vehicles move to electric drive, and large consumers of batteries the car manufacturers will have a big stake in their production and recycling.

      They will be able to make their factory 100% renewable just with the reject packs and used cells that come back, if they go that route.

    • I'd rather my taxes went to solar cells than a half-trillion-dollar F-35. Even if the solar cells aren't making somebody a fortune, they still don't pollute the air.
      • The is MASSIVE pollution when the solar cells are created and disposed of. Did you not think of this ? internal and external security is a function of government, Solar boondoggles are not (where the wealth is transferred from the poor taxpayer to the rich). Be and think an indoctrinated slave if you want to, just get out of the way of us that don't.
  • green fantasies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by prof_robinson ( 2632705 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @10:49PM (#52905623)
    This is getting a little out of hand. Yes, Costa Rica is running on "renewable" energy...but they have access to large amounts of geothermal many countries don't, plentiful hydroelectric energy which environmentalists are busy tearing down here, and a population only slightly larger than half of NYC. Plus, their grid capacity is only 2.7 mgw, which is approx 3/100th of ours. I personally don't care what color our energy is, I just want *better* energy...and the fact is, the only type of clean energy that can handle our demands would be nuclear; and since that's also off limits because of the environmental lobby, I don't see "green energy" meeting any of our demands any time soon. At the risk of destroying my karma further...these stories serve no purpose except to glorify things that can't work and coax us into implementing technologies that will never keep up, and will only raise our costs. It basically amounts to green propaganda. As for GM...the fact that they receive enormous subsidies from the Obama admin which bailed out their company and appointed their CEO (in true fascist fashion) - this is hardly a surprise. They know who their masters are.
    • The thing is you need to look at the big picture in energy production and that includes energy consumption.

      How much energy generation would you need if houses were hyper efficient like the new German ones are? How much energy would the southwest need if you could scale the Einstein refrigerator? You don't just go renewable, you also go renewable, reduce consumption and work with the environment you have.

      The Nordic states and Germany seem to be off to a good start and they're at latitudes on par with Canada

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Increased efficiency is fine, but will never make up for decreased capacity, and will ultimately only stall any future growth. Nordic states - like Iceland, for example - are in the same boat as costa rica: they are relying on geothermal and hyrdroelectric. (Which I like, by the way, but it's just not practical here.) Germany's green energy is turning out to be a myth. There are plenty of articles about how it is failing, once you get outside the green press. Like this, for example: http://www.forbes.com/si [forbes.com]
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          Perhaps you should link something other than Forbes if you would prefer it if people do not laugh at you.

          but I'm just being a realist

          Then stop reading those fucking business fantasy magazines!

          • "business fantasy"? Sorry, that's just sad. You can't refute the conclusions with data, so you just attack the source. Why would I not trust a "business magazine" that deals in data and economics and has no stake in the outcome? You'd rather I read Mother Earth, I suppose, or Greenpeace monthly.
            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              The source is crap for anything related to science and engineering and you can do better almost anywhere else - including even the extreme stuff you put in to mock - that's how bad it is.
              Worse than a joke is pretty fucking bad isn't it?
        • But I'm a firm believer in math - aka reality - and to replace our grid capacity with solar and wind would require paving over most of the southwest, and limit any growth to current levels.

          Evidently you went to the Donald Trump University majoring in Made Up Statistics and minoring in Bogus "Facts". For a person who professes to "believe in math" there is a distinct lack of it in you posts. It would take something like 11-12 million acres [youtube.com] or about 2000sqft per person. That's about 0.6% of the land mass of the US. A lot of space sure but nothing remotely close to "paving most of the southwest". Furthermore much of that acreage could come simply by utilizing already existing rooftops. Fur

          • We get it. You hate Trump. [yawn] Military grade reactors are not "challenging" - I know someone who worked on them. Mini nuke solutions - like the ones GE are working on - are black boxes. They are plug and play, no maintenance. They don't leak, they don't explode. If anything goes wrong, they shut down immediately. They are sealed boxes that are also disposal containers. Breeder and thorium reactors are very safe, as well as newer chinese models that actually do appear to be metldown-proof. Episodes like
            • Episodes like Fukiskima are outliers. The reactor in that case was a 40 yr old GE model,

              Most of the reactors in the USA are just as old and crap as that.

              and people are still debating whether the actual core breached.

              Tee hee

              The radiation that was released was not from the reactor, but the spent fuel rods being stored in pools on premises.

              Yeah, we have that situation here in the USA too.

        • I don't disagree with your premise, but no, we would not need to pave over the southwest:

          http://www.techinsider.io/map-... [techinsider.io]

          The area needed to power all of Europe, Africa and the Middle East could easily come from the Sahara, North America could be powered by covering some of the deserts, and South America by using their deserts. It is possible to do, but the storage is an absolute non starter. We have no way to store the kind of power we would need to store with all solar, and it is a pipe dream right now

    • the only type of clean energy that can handle our demands would be nuclear

      Wind power is already cheaper than nuclear, and if current trends continue, solar will be cheaper in less than a decade ... which is far less than the lead time to build a nuclear plant.

      and since that's also off limits because of the environmental lobby

      No. Nuclear is off the table because of economics.

      At the risk of destroying my karma further...

      Oh come off it. Nobody on Slashdot gets modded down for being pro-nuke.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Wind is cheaper (in optimal cases) where you don't consider the cost of indetermittancy and reserves. But actual cost of wind in most real world large projects, even the most recent, it higher than nuclear. You just oversimplify things by using capacity cost rather than cost per MWH.

        • Wind is cheaper (in optimal cases) where you don't consider the cost of indetermittancy and reserves. But actual cost of wind in most real world large projects, even the most recent, it higher than nuclear. You just oversimplify things by using capacity cost rather than cost per MWH.

          First, wind is only one part of a diversified energy portfolio. And secondly, no-one so far has solved the nuclear waste disposal problem, and hence no-one knows what it will cost. But we do know that it will be very expensive indeed. Current nuclear technology is a child of both cold war military subsidies and plenty of civilian subsidies, so complaining about subsidies for renewables now is a bit hypocritical.

          • The nuclear waste disposal issue is politics, not science. France has no issue reprocessing their waste, and what is left over can be buried like in Yucca Mountain.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        Wind and solar are only less expensive because of subsidies - which is cheating. They are actually the most expensive forms of energy out there, not only in terms of kw output, but the overall footprint required. http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au... [usyd.edu.au] Solar, for example, is 30-40% more expensive without subsidies http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com] As for my karma, how can I possibly prove to you what I have seen with my own eyes? This is not my first time down this road on slashdot. It's not so much that I'm "pro
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          Sorry to reply a lot to your posts but I've just seen them all at once so that's the way it is.

          Wind and solar are cheaper in some situations because sometimes you only need a few MW and nukes become economically viable at a GW scale. There is a crossover point in the cost curve - simple as that. It's the nature of thermal power having to start big and then scaling up better than some other things.
          • The big problem is you are using lab specs under pristine conditions to do your analysis. Solar and wind are greatly underperforming in the field.
            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              With respect I think your information is slightly more than one decade out of date. The large scale field tests were done and results found at around the time this site started. Anybody getting a shock about results now is just not trying.
        • Wind and solar are only less expensive because of subsidies - which is cheating.

          Investments are cheating? The first transistors and especially integrated circuits were also subsidized...by the military (that is, purchased by military for special applications at prices exceeding the vacuum tube prices).

          You'll never achieve any progress with this mindset because anything meaningfully new will be too expensive compared to the old thing.

          • Yes, "investments" - what a quaint socialist term - are cheating. If you buy a $30,000 car, but you get $20,000 from the govt, you then cannot claim that it was a deal at $10,000.
            • Jelly much? First quantify the health costs of all those exhausts, then we can talk about how much it is worth. (I still have breathing problems from the operation of our local coal plants back in the 1980s.)
        • Wind and solar are only less expensive because of subsidies - which is cheating.

          Fossil fuels are hugely subsidized [wikipedia.org] globally to the tune of around $500 Billion annually and that doesn't even count the countries that sell oil to citizens below cost. This is substantially more than renewable energy subsidies. Furthermore all nuclear power is subsidized as well since it requires government backing to get any kind of insurance. Furthermore your argument implies that subsidizing green energy sources is somehow a bad thing. I would argue that it is an economic imperative based on the appa

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Plus, their grid capacity is only 2.7 mgw, which is approx 3/100th of ours

      However with a HUUUGE grid, especially one that runs east to west so has peaks spread a great deal over time, makes a vast range of options possible that Costa Rica couldn't implement. We can do better and most likely will some day.

      There are a lot of long range HVDC links going in which means line losses from California to Florida are going to be ignorable. What was previously niches with little economic return like for example geo

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      I think it might work by 2050. It's at least somewhat of a realistic goal. Technology marches on.

    • They weren't even 100% renewable energy but 100% renewable electricity. They aren't counting the coal used in the concrete plants, and anything else that is thermal energy, just electricity production.

  • A whipping robot powered by a dynamo turned by the human slaves it whips = renewable energy? The actual automotives run on biodiesel created from carcasses of the fallen slaves. The AI CEO of Uber zips self-driving autos all over the place for menial tasks to maximize the productivity metrics, now bearing sensors sophisticated enough to avoid the heaps of corpses littering the streets. Extraterrestrials detect the signs of an advanced functioning civilization, only to find robo-maids dusting off our deplete

  • GM made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing that it planned to generate or source all its electrical power needs for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy such as wind, solar, and landfill gas, by 2050.

    Why do this? Seems like a noble goal but with the goal so far out it would seem that no one working for the company toady will still be working for the company when this goal is due. What they are promising is that their successors will meet this goal. This is a goal far enough out it could conceivably be their grandchildren being responsible for this. This is just marketing, pure and simple, they cannot conceivably be held responsible if they fail or meet this goal.

    GM is likely getting enviro-nuts on t

    • "blind" yes,
      "seer" no.
      • Rather than simply playing on my username and imply that I am wrong, ignorant, or otherwise lacking in making my argument perhaps you could enlighten me? I love a good debate but I try to avoid wrestling with pigs.

    • The resources in land, steel, aluminum, concrete, and so on for wind and solar is ten times that for coal, gas, or nuclear. There's your environmental disaster, many many square kilometers of land paved over for windmills and solar panels.

      You do know that the amount of land paved over for a big-ass windmill is like 100 square feet, right? OK, OK, I exaggerate. It might be 200.

      • That one wind turbine would produce something like 3 MW with optimum winds. In the best locations it will do so with an expected capacity factor of 35%, a capacity factor of 20% is more typical. Compare that to a nuclear power plant, that produces something like 1 GW at a capacity factor of about 90%. Tell me, because I'm too lazy to do the math right now, which one takes up less land area per MWh produced?

        Not that it matters a whole lot. Nuclear power uses less concrete and steel, produces power at low

        • Nuclear power uses less concrete and steel, produces power at lower cost, and does so with less carbon output per MWh no matter how the wind blows.

          And nuclear mining is a shitfest. In theory it can be done cleanly. In practice, there are always negative environmental effects. Always. You don't get to just handwave away the environmental impact of mining for radioactives, nor of processing ores.

          Unless you can show me otherwise I will maintain that more land is paved over with wind power than nuclear power.

          Actually, the best place to put it is offshore.

          Show me your math and then I'll show you mine.

          Your math doesn't include mining, so it's not interesting. In alt power we account for our externalities. You are invited to do the same if you want to be taken seriously.

  • If climate changes following current path until 2050, I am not sure GM will still exist at that time. Supply chains and customers will have been wiped from earth's surface.
  • It's appalling that some countries are still using landfill. Stop it already.

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