Ecomagination

“Today’s ecomagination expands our view from “traditional” sustainable technologies like wind, solar and fuel cells to solutions for heavy industries like mining, unconventional resources, and oil and gas.

GE is creating solutions that work today, that account for local demands and that are built to last with software-based, brilliant machines that help optimize industrial operations.

Ecomagination is the way GE works. It is embedded in our research, our product development and our operations. It has helped our customers save billions of dollars and significantly reduced their environmental impact.

And, as we continue to work on renewables, we are expanding into untraditional sectors like mining and natural gas development—working to make them cleaner, smarter and better—because we know they will remain a vital part of our economy for decades to come. It is in these essential industries that we have seen—and helped develop and scale —some of the most exciting technological advances in the past 20 years. The economic, environmental and social rewards from getting this done will be pervasive.

Across the globe, businesses, communities, NGOs and governments must work together to address the challenges of our time. We are working to provide solutions to our customers that fundamentally change the way they use, conserve, and think about energy.”

—Deb Frodl, Global Executive Director ecomagination, GE

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Progress Against Commitments

  • Increase revenues from ecomagination products

    In 2010, GE set an ambitious goal of growing ecomagination revenues at twice the rate of total company revenue in five years. In 2012, ecomagination met this objective, with revenue totaling $25 billion.

  • Double our investment in clean-tech research and development

    Ecomagination R&D investments in 2012 totaled $1.4 billion, and overall R&D investment totaled more than $5 billion between 2010 and 2012, tracking toward the goal of a $10 billion cumulative investment between 2010 and 2015.

  • Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% by 2015 and improve the
    energy intensity of operations 50% by 2015

    GHG emissions were lowered to 4.88 million metric tons (MT) of CO2 equivalents, a reduction of 32% from our adjusted 2004 baseline.

    In 2012, GE’s energy intensity improved 32% from the 2004 baseline year (measured as energy/$ revenue).

  • Reduce freshwater use by 25% and improve water reuse

    In 2012, GE’s freshwater use was 7.43 billion gallons, a 46% reduction from the 2006 baseline, and an 18% decrease from 2011.

  • Keep the public informed

    GE is committed to keeping our customers, stakeholders and communities informed and engaged through this report and our ongoing customer engagements.

Products

Through ecomagination, we are accelerating low-carbon development and improving the energy efficiency of our products while also offering products and services that help our customers use energy more efficiently.

GE offers a range of energy-efficient goods, from consumer-facing products such as the nearly 400 GE appliances that meet ENERGY STAR standards and our high-efficiency lighting systems, to industrial-scale energy systems and mobility solutions in aviation, rail and electric vehicles.

Similarly, GE develops infrastructure such as smart-grid solutions that help customers use energy more efficiently. Indeed, our product portfolios are broad enough that we can develop and integrate solutions on several levels simultaneously, by improving the efficiency of individual products while also enhancing the efficiency of the infrastructures they use. Learn more here.

Half the size of a typical wet-cell UPS battery, GE's Durathon batteries store and release energy more efficiently, all the while lasting up to 20 years

Reducing GHG Emissions and Energy Use

Energy, and especially electricity, is critical to the global economy and community advancement. Finding ways to help emerging economies meet the rising demand for energy—set to grow 40% over the next two decades—is essential for bringing them out of poverty and improving human development. At the same time, using fossil fuel to meet the increased energy demand is leading to increased GHG emissions that contribute to climate change. GE is focused on helping our customers deliver more energy productivity from more varied and cleaner sources while producing fewer environmental impacts in our own operations and value chains.

To respond to this challenge and engage with governments on these issues, GE has made a significant commitment to optimize our own use of energy and reduce our GHG emissions. We are also committed to identifying and managing other resources that are critical to the continued economic growth of emerging markets and industries. Increasing resource constraints are driving innovation around how we manage, use and reuse critical materials throughout our products’ value chains. Through this innovation, GE hopes to remain a leader in sustaining business growth that is appropriate across today’s diverse marketplace.

The EHS Academy: Where Local Improvement Drives Global Collaboration

At GE, energy use and GHG emissions are managed by a cross-functional team of experts from the Engineering, Operations, Finance, Environmental, Sourcing and Legal organizations, working with colleagues in GE’s Global Research Centers. This cross-functional approach is a very effective mechanism for driving various aspects of energy-use reduction in GE’s operations. We use a variety of strategies—e.g. operational footprint reductions, new technology introductions, utilities sourcing and renewables—and link them to the GHG emissions and compliance reporting mandates of various jurisdictions, including those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the U.S. Northeast and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Such an approach allows GE to focus on optimizing energy use, controlling GHG emissions and fulfilling our regulatory obligations.

In 2012, GE developed and released an ecoFramework toolkit for managing energy use in our global operations. It focuses on both employee and leadership engagement in driving energy conservation, as well as the technical aspects of managing energy use and related equipment. This framework leverages our experience in developing management systems for our Environment, Health and Safety programs.

Employees driving operational excellence at the Sakhalin Oil & Gas facility in Russia

In 2012, GE lowered its energy use to 48.03 million MMBtu, a reduction of 19% from our adjusted 2004 baseline, and a slight reduction from 2011 levels.

In addition, GE lowered its GHG emissions to 4.88 million MT of CO2 equivalents, a reduction of 32% from our adjusted 2004 baseline and a 4% reduction from 2011 levels.

In 2012, GE’s energy intensity improved 32% from the 2004 baseline year (measured as energy/$ revenue). This performance is relatively flat with 2011 and less than the 37% improvement we reported in 2008. We believe this to be attributable to changes in GE’s portfolio and to a slower economic recovery than was anticipated. GE’s energy use is dominated by natural gas (primarily for steam and heat) and electricity use.

GE’s GHG intensity has improved by 43% since 2004. We attribute this to improvements in areas where non-CO2 GHG materials are used in operations, particularly the foam insulation process used in GE’s Appliances business.

Water Solutions

Reduce Water Use and Improve Water Reuse

In May 2008, we announced our goal to reduce our freshwater consumption by 20% in 2012 from our 2006 baseline. In early 2009, we modified the goal to a 25% reduction by 2015. GE annually collects water data for those sites consuming more than 15 million gallons a year. This includes water used for potable, process and sanitary purposes as well as once-through cooling waters from freshwater sources. We adjust the data each year to reflect acquisitions and divestments.

In 2012, GE’s freshwater use was 7.43 billion gallons, a 46% reduction from the 2006 baseline, and an 18% decrease from 2011.

Factors contributing to the observed decrease from last year's results include:

  • Successful implementation of Kaizen Blitz water reduction opportunities at select sites
  • Product-testing campaigns (decrease in once-through cooling water use)

Another action under way will potentially reduce GE’s global water use by up to an estimated 5%. A large project at one of our U.S. plants will utilize GE Water & Process Technology equipment, including membrane technologies, to recycle and reuse water. We anticipate the new system will be operational by 2015.

Following the enormous success of our Kaizen Blitz activities since 2008, we will begin to target GE sites located in water-scarce areas starting in 2014.

As a result of divestiture and acquisition events as well as product-testing campaign activities in 2013 and beyond, variability in performance will continue to exist for the duration of the goal-time horizon.

Water Scarcity

As part of our ecomagination goal of reducing our freshwater consumption by 25% by 2015, GE has a special program for locations that consume more than 15 million gallons of freshwater a year, which account for approximately 90% of GE’s total freshwater usage. GE’s Global Research Center reviewed the 65 sites that used more than 15 million gallons of freshwater in 2012 against the Maplecroft Water Stress Index. Five sites were identified as “in potentially extremely water-scarce regions” (Water Stress Index/WSI ≥0.7), while an additional 19 were concluded to be “in areas with a medium level of water scarcity” (WSI between 0.4 and 0.7). Overall, 1.08 billion gallons, or 15%, of our total freshwater consumption in 2012 occurred in water-scarce areas. GE’s use of freshwater in water-scarce areas decreased 2.5% in 2012 compared with 2011.

Of most concern were the sites in developing countries that, historically, have had less ability to react in the event of water shortages. For example, our Research Center in Bangalore, India, is in a region that Maplecroft categorizes as one with extreme water scarcity. The facility underwent a

major upgrade of its wastewater-treatment system, installing GE technology (a membrane bioreactor using ecomagination qualified Z-Weed ultrafiltration membranes), in addition to making other changes that reduced per-capita water usage by 35% from 2006 to 2012.

The remaining sites identified in developing countries were in China (5) and Mexico (1). The majority of the sites located in China are in the greater Shanghai region. While the water usage in these Shanghai-area locations was minute in comparison to the regional total—GE water usage in 2012 was equivalent to 0.004% of Shanghai’s 2008 water usage—we expect to see additional opportunities for reduction. In 2013, we will host a Kaizen Blitz training event in the region to start preparing our local teams to anticipate water scarcity and reduce their overall water use. Through 2014, the remaining sites in potentially water-scarce areas will be prioritized for Kaizen Blitz events. For more details visit GE’s Water Inventory Process.

Accelerating Open Innovation: Ecomagination Challenges

GE’s ecomagination Challenges have made important contributions to our innovation process and have turbocharged investment activity, resulting in 22 investments and commercial partnerships, one acquisition and seed funding for 10 start-ups and innovators. Through the Challenges, GE aims to identify and bring innovative energy ideas to the market.

Challenge Winners: ChinaChallenge Launch: Australia

Ecomagination Challenge Winners: China

China, as the world's second-largest energy market, is a very important region in this initiative and, as a result, in 2011 GE and several venture capital partners launched the ecomagination Challenge there. The aim was to search for and bring to market gas-powered energy innovations to meet the country’s growing energy and environmental needs. The open innovation competition was the largest of its kind in China, garnering more than 200 submissions targeting participants from the public, private and national sectors.

In 2012, GE announced the ecomagination Challenge winners for China. Selections were made by a judging panel that included GE technology and commercial leaders as well as non-GE experts. The companies and individuals behind the first four winning ideas received $50,000 each in prize money. The fifth winner, who entered a non-gas power-related idea, received the ecomagination Challenge Campus Star Award, which included $2,000 in prize money along with an apprenticeship at the GE China Technology Center in Shanghai, one of GE’s five major R&D hubs across the globe.

The winners were:

Shenzhen Li’ke Co. — Producers of an engineering solution that converts pressure—otherwise lost at natural gas pipeline gate stations—into a steady energy supply for urban heating or cooling systems.

Luon Energy — Developers of an unprecedented chemical that helps significantly cut the cost of the natural gas refueling process and, therefore, potentially paves the way for commercial-scale deployment of gas-powered automobiles.

Professor Yu Shuili, Tongji University — Designer of a sophisticated membrane system that significantly raises the efficiency of wastewater stream purification on oil and gas fields.

Luo Yi, independent designer — Creator of a metropolitan wheel farm designed to address food and energy security for city-dwellers by marrying urban agriculture with various forms of distributed, renewable energy generation, including those based on biogas.

Kuang Siwei, student, Central China Science & Technology University — Developer of a pendulum-style wind turbine with flexible speed and rotation pattern that turns variation in wind strength and direction in favor of, rather than against, more efficient wind-power generation.

Ecomagination Challenge
Launch: Australia

Expanding its global reach, GE, in collaboration with five venture capital partners, launched the ecomagination Challenge in Australia and New Zealand to find, fund and bring to market breakthrough ideas for reducing the countries’ carbon footprints.

The open innovation competition called on businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students to submit real ideas for low-carbon solutions and technologies.

Ben Waters, director, ecomagination, GE Australia & New Zealand, said, “Australia and New Zealand have bipartisan national targets for renewable energy generation and greenhouse gas reduction, and are both strong markets for great technology that can compete on the world stage. So, we believe it’s the right time and the right place for our ecomagination Challenge to uncover and invest in technologies that will help us shift to a low-carbon economy.”

Closing on November 30, 2012, the challenge was a tremendous success, with nearly 200 valid entries from across the region. Five low-carbon innovations were announced as the winners of GE’s ecomagination Challenge in Australia and New Zealand in March 2013. The winners were presented with $100,000 each, and are:

< Go BackChallenge Winners: China

GE Ventures: Bringing Partnerships to Scale

GE is committed to accelerating the commercialization of innovative ideas.

In the spirit of ecomagination, GE Ventures-Energy makes venture capital investments in innovative companies in the energy sector. The goal of GE Ventures-Energy is to be the global partner of choice to accelerate the commercialization of world-class ideas and technologies by providing capital as well as access to GE’s expertise, resources and global scale.

In order to accelerate the process of establishing commercial partnerships with portfolio companies, GE also launched the ecomagination Accelerator, committing up to $20 million for scaling and commercializing ideas. Through this program, we are designing and funding commercial pilots with leading start-up companies with the objective of validating and enhancing their value propositions. Today, the ecomagination Accelerator is funding five partnerships between innovative start-ups and GE business units.

Current projects include:

Opening Our Doors for Alternative Fuel Vehicles

The world’s most pressing environmental challenges also present an opportunity to do what GE does best: imagine and build innovative solutions that benefit our customers and society. GE Capital Fleet Services delivered just that with the opening of its Vehicle Innovation Center, a world-class facility in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, that provides businesses, industry groups and researchers with a first-hand experience with alternative-fuel vehicles.

Here, early adopters like FedEx take hybrids and electric vehicles for a spin. On a private GE course, customers can test Chevy Volts, Nissan Leafs and other cars, trucks and hybrids powered by electricity, natural gas, or hydrogen. They can also explore such GE technologies as the GE Wattstation ™, CNG in a Box and a solar carport that streams renewable electricity to an array of GE DuraStation commercial EV chargers.

The center focuses on solving environmental problems with innovative solutions that foster business advantage and economic growth.

GE’s Vehicle Innovation Center welcomed more than 1,000 visitors in 2012, with 92% reporting a more favorable opinion of alternative-fuel vehicles after their visits.

GE Opens Innovation Center for Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Solutions

Reducing Environmental Impact at Work: Ecomagination Nation

Ecomagination Nation is a global GE Power & Water initiative designed to help protect the environment by encouraging employees to reduce GE's carbon footprint, energy and water use, and to drive cost reductions associated with decreased consumption.

Eighteen sites have met the established ecomagination Nation criteria, which include community outreach on environmental issues, documented emissions reductions, and the leadership support of nearly 5,000 GE employees, resulting in savings of $2.3 million in 2012. Efforts at ecomagination Nation-recognized facilities resulted in:

  • GHG emissions reduced by 49,597 MT — The equivalent of taking 11,000 cars off the road
  • Water use reduction of 669 million gallons — The equivalent of shutting down Niagara Falls for 77 minutes

Schenectady, New York

Veresegyház, Hungary

Ecomagination Nation: Schenectady, New York

Schenectady is home to GE Power & Water, but the company’s 20 occupied buildings also house employees from GE’s Corporate and Transportation teams. Achieving the ecomagination Nation criteria at this 600+-acre site required collaboration, extensive planning and a comprehensive communications plan to raise awareness and encourage involvement. The site’s 25 ecomagination Nation ambassadors and 500 members championed a number of initiatives in 2012, helping save more than $350,000 and reducing GHG emissions by more than 2,600 MT.

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Veresegyház, Hungary

Ecomagination Nation: Veresegyház, Hungary

Located on 53 acres, with more than 1,500 employees, Veresegyház is a GE site committed to reducing its environmental impact. The site’s ecomagination Nation ambassador and supporting team have championed new and innovative energy-saving initiatives that have inspired other sites to take a second look at their processes and procedures.

Determined to continually reduce energy consumption, Veresegyház implements five to six new initiatives every year. Since 2007, production at the facility has doubled, yet its greenhouse gas intensity has been reduced by 60%. The site implemented a new thermal water heat-exchange process that runs water into the Earth’s core for heating, then pumps that heated water into the plant. For Veresegyház, this process has reduced CO2 emissions by 760 MT and yearly natural gas consumption by 400,000 m3; the project also has a projected annual savings of $140,000.

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Schenectady, New York

How Data and Software Models Helped GE Build its Cleanest Next-Gen Locomotive

In August 2012, GE Transportation unveiled the prototype for its next Evolution® Series Locomotive, which will decrease regulated constituent emissions by more than 70% and may save railroad customers more than $1.5 billion in infrastructure and operational costs. GE expects that the locomotive will be the first in the industry to meet the U.S. EPA’s stringent “Tier 4” emission standards, which call for the single largest emissions reduction in the tiered program’s timeline. What’s more, the new locomotive will meet these standards with technological advancements rather than costly alternatives, which require special exhaust additives and infrastructure investments.

This new locomotive is part of GE’s ecomagination qualified Evolution Series Locomotive family—the best-selling global locomotive platform. Today, more than 5,000 Evolution Series Locomotives operate in the U.S. and globally, allowing railroads to move one ton of freight more than 480 miles on a single gallon of fuel. This new engine technology is the result of an initial six-year, $400 million investment, followed by a two-year, $200 million investment to hone the research, design and engineering to meet Tier 4 standards.

A GE engineer discusses reduced emissions in the new Tier 4 locomotive

Power for
a Changing World

Built for the needs of 60-hertz countries, GE’s FlexEfficiency* 60 Portfolio provides efficiency and unprecedented operating flexibility to accommodate both continuous and cyclic operation while delivering reliable, responsive power to the energy grid. Launched in September 2012, and built on modular architecture and technology, the FlexEfficiency 60 Combined-Cycle Power Plant delivers reliable, efficient, and cost-effective power in customized configurations.

Never before have power plant owners had more opportunities to employ valuable natural gas resources with such a high level of efficiency. Whether customers need highly efficient baseload power or more flexible cyclic power generation, the FlexEfficiency 60 Portfolio delivers.

The ecomagination qualified FlexEfficiency 60 Power Plant provides a number of economic and environmental benefits, including reduced fuel burn and lower emissions compared with typical coal or combined-cycle power plants.

GE's FlexEfficiency 60 sets the standard for operational flexibility for 60 hertz applications

Compared with Coal-Powered Plants

Operating a FlexEfficiency 60 Power Plant featuring two 7F 7-series gas turbines instead of an equivalent-sized coal-powered plant could result in the avoidance of 2.6 million metric tons of CO2 per year1.

This emissions reduction is the equivalent of more than half a million people in the U.S. trading their cars in for bicycles, or of eliminating the annual CO2 emissions of nearly 3 million cars in Japan.

Compared with Existing Technology

Using the FlexEfficiency 60 Power Plant featuring two 7F 7-series gas turbines rather than an equal capacity combined-cycle power plant using existing technology could result in2:

  • Savings of 56,000 metric tons of CO2 per year
  • Reduced fuel burn of 950 million cubic feet of natural gas per year

This annual reduction in CO2 emissions is equal to the emissions of more than 11,000 cars on U.S. roads. The annual potential fuel savings is equivalent to the annual natural gas consumption of approximately 13,000 U.S. households. This translates to a savings of $3.6 million per year for a combined-cycle power plant operating in North America and $14.4 million per year for a combined-cycle power plant operating in Japan3,4.

Driving Infrastructure
for Natural Gas
Powered Transportation

GE is working with Clean Energy Fuels, the largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America, to provide new technology that will produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) for a network of fueling stations for long-haul, heavy-duty trucks along major U.S. highways.

According to Mike Hosford, General Manager of Unconventional Resources, GE Oil & Gas, “Small liquefied natural gas equipment could grow into a $1 billion market for GE over the next five years.”

The MicroLNG plant, a part of GE’s ecomagination portfolio, can produce LNG in batches of up to 250,000 gallons per day, and the system’s modular design allows it to be easily scaled up to 1 million gallons. The technology, which GE developed by re-engineering the turbomachinery technology built for large-scale LNG producers in Qatar and Australia, can liquefy natural gas at any point along a gas distribution network, making it ideal for supporting the fueling of vehicles in remote locations by reducing fuel transportation costs and logistics.

LNG produced with this MicroLNG system can be used to fuel approximately 28,000 heavy trucks, replacing diesel-powered trucks with equivalent fuel economy. This could enable fleet operators to avoid more than 139,000 MT of CO2 equivalent emissions per year, equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 27,000 cars using gasoline or 7,000 trucks using diesel on U.S. roads—assuming an average truck travels approximately 14,000 miles per year.

The Micro LNG plant provides an integrated solution for gas liquefaction