GE rises to challenges of energy transition

October 19, 2020 | 17:39
GE has announced a comprehensive set of goals to achieve carbon neutrality for the company’s operations by 2030.
ge rises to challenges of energy transition
GE is setting the goal of achieving carbon neutrality.

GE has a long-standing commitment to delivering for customers and tackling the world’s biggest challenges. Climate change is undoubtedly among the foremost of those challenges, and the corporation has been sharpening its strategic focus on its role in helping solve the global energy transition.

This is a regular discussion topic among the Board of Directors, my senior leadership team and investors, and it is increasingly at the center of conversations with customers who are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The company’s history of innovation, global footprint, and industries put it in a unique position for building solutions to this challenge.

Setting a new goal of carbon neutrality

Today, GE is setting a goal of achieving carbon neutrality for our own operations by 2030. With over 1,000 facilities across the globe including factories, test sites, warehouses, and offices, the scale of GE’s industrial manufacturing footprint means that achieving this new goal will represent a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

GE is targeting the majority of its progress toward the 2030 goal through absolute reductions of direct emissions and energy use achieved through operational investments, smart power sourcing, and elimination of waste. Employees are using lean methods to hold site-driven sustainability workouts, identify energy reduction opportunities, and calculate and track the costs and paybacks. GE’s prior efforts in this space led to exceeding its greenhouse gas reduction goal for 2020. These investments and improvements are good for the bottom line and for the world, and employees across GE are energised and proud to help with this type of problem solving.

GE also recently announced pursuing an exit from the newly-built coal power market. This is another significant step that underscores the interplay among decarbonisation, market dynamics, and the company’s business strategy.

Leading with technology

Climate change cannot be solved without substantial advancements in technology. As a company whose people have led innovation for more than 120 years, GE is uniquely positioned to deploy its global reach, expertise, and depth of engineering capabilities to address this urgent challenge. Its innovative and efficient products are making a meaningful impact on the world’s ability to decarbonise, including:

  • Onshore wind. GE’s 2MW onshore wind platform is approaching 20GW of installed base globally, which is enough to power 6 million US homes.
  • Offshore wind. The world’s largest offshore wind farm at Dogger Bank in the North Sea will be powered by GE’s Haliade-X turbine operating at 13MW, making it the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine.
  • Gas power. GE’s world-record setting HA turbines are the most efficient gas turbine and are engineered to complement variable renewables with their industry-leading flexibility. The first purpose-built hydrogen-burning power plant in the US also recently announced that it plans to use a GE 7HA.02 turbine, which has the capability to transition to 100 per cent hydrogen over time.
  • Nuclear power. The US Department of Energy has just awarded advanced reactor demonstration funding for our Natrium technology (jointly developed with TerraPower), and the largest Canadian power operator recently selected GE’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor as a leading technology for further development. These advanced nuclear technologies will be able to provide carbon-free, dependable base load, and flexible capacity and play an important role in the energy transition.
  • Aviation. The GE9X aircraft engine, the world’s largest and most powerful aircraft engine, is also the most efficient engine GE has ever built and is designed to deliver 10 per cent greater fuel efficiency than its predecessor. This is the culmination of a renewal of our commercial engine portfolio, with each new product line offering a step change in fuel efficiency.

These are investments GE has been making over the years to deliver more efficient technologies for our customers.

Technology advancements like these are a central part of GE’s business strategy, and the company will continue to invest in research and development and pursue next-generation products and breakthroughs as part of its commercial differentiation. GE is tackling these technological challenges and is partnering with customers to realise the promise of these innovations.

Addressing decarbonisation challenge across industries

GE is also in ongoing dialogue with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders about emissions reductions across the entire value chains of our industries. Developing the approaches to achieve these broader reductions is complex but important work, GE is committed to continuing these efforts with a focus on the areas of greatest impact within different sectors.

This industry-specific work is already underway. In power generation – which is crucial to the energy transition as the broader economy electrifies – there are a range of decarbonisation solutions that address the differences across countries and regions in their energy needs and resource availability. As utilities, power producers, grid operators, and policymakers around the world set their own decarbonisation goals for the power sector, GE’s diverse offerings will enable them to achieve their targets. Those offerings range from wind power to state-of-the-art natural gas, nuclear, and other power generation equipment, grid upgrades and solutions like hydrogen and carbon capture that are likely to play a growing role over time.

GE Aviation has been among the leaders of an ambitious aviation industry initiative to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in net CO2 emissions by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. GE Healthcare, whose customers and partners are actively examining the public health effects from climate change, is increasing focus on the sustainability across its manufacturing, sourcing, distribution, and installation operations, as well as the service and support of its products.

As the global effort to decarbonise continues to reshape how energy is produced and consumed in the decades ahead, GE will be at the center of the energy transition.

Across its businesses, GE’s teams are rising to the challenge and innovating for customers and the world. GE, as it has through its history, is investing in the technologies that will shape the future. Building a world that works is GE’s purpose and addressing climate change is fundamental to fulfilling this purpose for its customers, employees, and communities.

By Larry Culp, GE’s chairman and CEO

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