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GM’s Chevy Bolt EV Plant (Orion Assembly) Uses A Ton Of Renewable Energy, Saves $1 Million A Year

GM’s Orion Assembly manufacturing plant, where the Chevy Bolt is being put together, now ranks as the 8th largest user of “green power” generated onsite in the US — out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s network of “Green Power Partnership Partners.”

Chevy Bolt

“Pre-production for the all-new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is underway. Chevrolet Bolt EV engineers are working alongside GM’s Orion Township, Mich. assembly plant workers to finalize testing of plant tools and processes in preparation for the for start of retail production at the end of this year.”

The Orion Assembly plant is currently home to a 350 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system and receives roughly half of its electricity through the use of methane collected from a nearby landfill.

landfill gas Orion Assembly

“Over half of Orion Assembly plant is powered by methane captured from decomposing trash in a nearby landfill and converted to electricity onsite. Each of these controls is connected to a large engine generating electricity from landfill gas.”

The facility saves roughly $1 million a year on operating costs thanks to its use of renewables.

GM is currently pursuing a public goal of having 125 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity by 2020 — a goal expected to be exceeded later this year.

GM Orion solar power

“Orion Assembly houses a 350-kilowatt solar array that sends energy back to the grid.”

“Building the Bolt EV in a facility that is 54% powered by clean energy further adds to the car’s environmental credentials,” stated Alicia Boler-Davis, GM vice president of global manufacturing. “It’s an example of how we live our global sustainable manufacturing commitment while improving our bottom line.”

“EPA applauds Orion Assembly for its innovation in generating green power from an onsite landfill gas energy system and for taking a leadership position on the environment,” stated James Critchfield, manager of the Green Power Partnership.

methane gas Chevy Bolt plant

“Orion Assembly ranks as the eighth largest user of green power in the U.S., according to EPA’s Green Power Partnership. Over half of the plant is powered by methane captured from decomposing trash in a nearby landfill.”

The Orion Assembly plant also makes use of an interesting “energy efficient” painting process — whereby a “three-wet process allows 3 layers of paint to be applied to the car followed by a single trip through the oven, saving energy, and space previously used by additional equipment.”

GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly plant in Indiana, responsible for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, also appeared on the EPA list, thanks to its use of methane collected from landfills.

While more could (and presumably will be) done to improve renewables use, the fact that the Bolt is put together at a relatively “green” plant is another plus for the all-electric model. Not quite at the level that Tesla’s operations will be at when the Model 3 launches, but still notable.

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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