Automotive giant General Motors announced today that it has signed a new power purchase agreement (PPA) for a 180-megawatt solar project being developed by First Solar. The new agreement adds to two other renewable projects totaling 600 MW of solar energy entered into by GM earlier this year, and pushes GM past the 1 gigawatt renewable energy milestone. Today’s agreement adds a new first for the company, by including the ability to store energy for future use.
The solar energy from the new PPA will come from a new solar field in Arkansas originally developed by First Solar, Inc. and will use photovoltaic solar modules. The project is expected to come online in 2023. GM stated that 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.
GM has set a goal to source 100 percent renewable electricity for GM’s sites in the U.S. by 2030. When the current PPA comes online in 2023, the company expects to be past the 60% mark of achieving this target.
GM Chief Sustainability Officer Dane Parker, said:
“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. 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.”
According to First Solar, the company’s proprietary thin film solar modules are manufactured using a unique process that requires less energy, water and semiconductor material. The company also recovers more than 90 percent of the materials, including its CadTel semiconductor, from every photovoltaic module processed, at its recycling facilities in Ohio.
Georges Antoun, First Solar Chief Commercial Officer, said:
“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. 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.”