General Electric Co. has set aside an additional $10 billion through 2020 for the development of clean energy technologies, which will generate revenues and create a positive environmental impact. GEâ€™s chief executive Jeff Immelt is set to announce this new investment, which will help intensify research in complex energy projects such as gas turbine efficiency and waterless fracking.
GEâ€™s â€˜ecoimaginationâ€™ research budget reveals the companyâ€™s strong focus on energy, which has emerged as its fastest growth area. The company is aiming to become a dominant equipment and services supplier to oil, natural gas and alternative power companies. The new commitment to clean energy provides investors with some insight into what the companyâ€™s priority areas are likely to be into the next decade.
GE launched the â€˜ecoimaginationâ€™ project in 2005 with an aim to focus on sustainability and other environmental issues. The project has cost about $15 billion, and had been scheduled to expire next year. However, the company has decided to extend the project to 2020 with an additional commitment of $10 billion. The broader goals of the project will remain unchanged, but a greater share of the funds will be dedicated to energy-related projects.
GE will study along with Norwayâ€™s Statoil how to employ carbon dioxide in hydraulic fracturing, as a part of the new commitment. Hydraulic fracturing is commonly known as fracking, which involves mixing of over two million gallons of water per well with chemicals and sand to extract oil and natural gas. Shortage of water has prompted several companies to look for innovative solutions to reduce frackingâ€™s use of water, and substituting it with CO2 and even propane.
CO2 based fracking is not economically viable as of now, but companies are looking to find ways to collect CO2 at the wellhead, recycle it, use it to frack again, and repeat the process. GE is also keen to boost the efficiency of its natural gas-powered turbines to 65 percent from the current 62 percent. The company believes its existing jet engine efficiency research could help it to achieve this goal.
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