GM to buy renewable energy-based steam supply at Detroit plant

General Motors and Detroit Renewable Energy today on Nov. 18 announced a renewable energy project to turn solid municipal waste from Metro Detroit into process steam that will be used to heat and cool portions of GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

When the project is operational, 58% of the plant’s energy needs will come from renewable energy, making Detroit-Hamtramck the top GM facility in the world by percentage of renewable energy used.

“We have 107 landfill-free facilities across the globe that recycle or reuse their waste, with some of it turned into energy,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy. “It made sense to explore this option with DRE at Detroit-Hamtramck, given their quality work in helping us manage our energy use at some of our other GM plants.”

Detroit Renewable is able to process more than 1 million tons of municipal solid waste into electric power and steam while also recycling nearly 40,000 tons of metal annually. The steam will travel 8,300 feet through a pipe originating at Detroit Renewable Power and ending at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

“We have a long history of working with GM in providing energy to its assembly plants,” said Detroit Renewable Energy Chairman and CEO Steven White. “To incorporate a sustainable and renewable energy source into the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant makes a significant addition to the value chain.”

The steam pipe will provide 15.8 MW of renewable energy to the plant, which equates to 12% of GM’s overall goal of putting 125 MW of renewable energy into its energy portfolio by 2020. Construction of the new steam line and associated energy infrastructure will begin later this month and become operational next spring.

General Motors (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets.

Detroit Renewable Energy is the holding company formed in 2010 for the independent operations of Detroit Thermal LLC, provider of renewable energy-based steam for heating and cooling; Detroit Renewable Power LLC, operator of the Detroit energy-from-waste plant; and Hamtramck Energy Services LLC, operator of private steam and waste water treatment plants at seven General Motors facilities.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.