Major New GE Initiative Focuses on Clean Technology

In a policy speech at George Washington University in Washington D.C., General Electric’s chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt unveiled a new company-wide strategy to aggressively pursue new technologies that help meet today’s environmental challenges. Called “Ecomagination”, the effort is expected to include ramped up commercialization of the company’s renewable energy businesses like their wind and solar divisions.

“Ecomagination is GE’s commitment to address challenges such as the need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy, reduced emissions and abundant sources of clean water,” Immelt said. “And we plan to make money doing it. Increasingly for business, ‘green’ is green. Immelt said the company would focus on energy, technology, manufacturing and infrastructure capabilities to develop tomorrow’s solutions such as solar energy, hybrid locomotives, fuel cells, lower-emission aircraft engines, lighter and stronger materials, efficient lighting and water purification technology. GE’s announcement reflects a growing trend among large multinational corporations to consider the environmental consequences of their business practices and particularly to find ways of growing while taking these concerns into consideration. GE has increasingly spoken out in favor of government policies to set limitations on greenhouse gas emissions from industry. The official unveiling of Ecomagination during a policy speech in Washington D.C. is being viewed partly as a call for more Federal leadership in this area. The announcement is also noteworthy because GE is the world’s largest company, according to market share, and because the company is well-poised to leverage their clean energy technologies to achieve these goals. In the past few years, GE Energy acquired both a wind and a solar energy division and both are expected to play a major role in the company’s new efforts to be more green. Under ecomagination, GE said they will: – Double investment in R&D – GE will invest $1.5 billion annually in research in cleaner technologies by 2010, up from $700 million in 2004. – Introduce more ecomagination products each year – GE will double its revenues from products and services that provide significant and measurable environmental performance advantages to customers – from $10 billion in 2004 to at least $20 billion in 2010 with more aggressive targets thereafter. These products include renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar, technologies and materials that make energy production and consumption more efficient, cleaner and more efficient transportation technologies, and products and services that conserve or purify water. Reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve its energy efficiency – In addition to helping customers meet their environmental goals, GE has committed to reduce its GHG emissions 1 percent by 2012 and the intensity of its GHG emissions 30 percent by 2008 (both compared to 2004). Based on the company’s projected growth, GE’s GHG emissions would have risen 40 percent by 2012 without further action. And throughout this process, GE pledged to publicly report its progress in meeting these goals. Jonathan Lash, president of the Washington-based World Resources Institute, who presented alongside Immelt, called GE’s effort “a hugely important step by one of the world’s most important companies. It is particularly encouraging that GE is focusing its research on cleaner technologies and making a serious, meaningful and accountable commitment to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Innovation and leadership are what is necessary to address climate change, and that is what we are seeing from GE.” For more information on GE’s Ecomagination initiative, see the following link:
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