The US-based conglomerate General Electric recently announced that it will spend an additional $10 billion researching and developing clean energy technologies over the next six years. As a major player in the solar and wind markets, GE’s decision to throw more money behind these technologies is happy news for green power advocates. The only drawback is that GE has included hydraulic fracturing in its stable of clean energy research projects. The company stated that its “new investment will support research in alternative technologies to replace water in hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘fracking,’ and improve wind turbine and power plant efficiencies.”
Image via GE photostream
As one of the biggest and most diverse companies in the world, GE isn’t in the business of wasting money. That’s why it’s been working to reduce its own energy consumption for many years. According to Phys.org, GE’s famous “ecomagination” program has already generated more than $160 billion in revenue and slashed the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater use.
The new investment extends and builds on a 2005 program designed to find and develop technologies that reduce costs and environmental impacts for GE’s customers and its own operations, the company said. Much like NASA, however, technologies created to benefit GE have a habit of making their way to the open market, which is good news for all of us.
GE has invested $12 billion to date of its $15 billion commitment on the R&D program through 2015, and now it will increase that commitment by $10 billion by 2020.
In addition to improving existing wind turbine technologies, some of that money will support two new R&D projects in the natural gas sector. As fracking continues to attract negative headlines, in part for its massive water consumption, GE will work to make this process more efficient. “GE said it had teamed up with Norwegian oil giant Statoil to look into whether carbon dioxide would be suitable for large-scale use as an alternative to water, potentially reducing the large amounts of water needed for fracking,” reports Phys.org.
The second project will see GE team up with Canadian company Ferus to reduce fracking’s impact on air quality. The project will work to capture natural gas that operators flare off from new oil and gas wells in remote areas because of a lack of infrastructure to economically capture and transport it.