General Motors announced recently a $24 million investment in electrical generation equipment that will allow the company to use more landfill gas at its Fort Wayne, Ind., and Orion, Mich., assembly plants.
The new equipment will generate more than 14 megawatts of electricity from landfill gas, a renewable energy source, which will help GM avoid producing more than 89,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. That’s equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 18,542 passenger vehicles. GM also will save a combined $10 million in energy costs each year at the facilities.
The investment will provide powerhouse construction at each assembly plant, as well as generation equipment and machinery.
“We have made a public commitment to increase our use of renewable energy within GM to 125 megawatts by 2020,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy. “This expansion represents more than 10 percent of that goal.”
Orion Assembly has used landfill gas since 1999. Currently it helps heat a portion of an upgraded paint shop that uses half the energy per vehicle as the one it replaced. When the electric-generation project is completed, 54 percent of Orion’s energy will come from renewable landfill gas.
Fort Wayne Assembly has used landfill gas since 2002. The investment will increase its landfill gas use four-fold, to 40 percent. Earlier this year, Fort Wayne was named a U.S. EPA Energy Star certified facility for its prudent energy management.
“With this project in place, we are converting landfill gas into our own electricity, which, in essence, allows us to act as our own utility,” said Bill Mortimer, GM co-generation project manager. “Not only does this help us save on energy costs, but it limits the amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere.”
The excess gas flare that normally escapes into the air is now redirected into the facility to create electricity energy for manufacturing.
Construction on both projects has begun, and is expected to be complete and operational by May of 2014.