There is something unique about what we do at GE Renewable Energy. Our mission is to unleash limitless energy for the world, accelerating the global transition to renewable sources of clean power. Our customers and communities rely on us to ensure that no one ever has to choose between affordable, reliable, or sustainable energy. Yet we are not truly fulfilling our mission if our own activities in producing and installing renewable sources of power have negative impacts on the environment.
GE is committed to delivering innovation and technology to address the energy transition and climate change globally. This includes taking strong actions internally and leading by example.
In 2020, GE committed to a carbon neutrality pledge by 2030 for GE’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Given the industrial nature of GE’s businesses and its global supply chain, this is a strong commitment in leading by example. While we are focused on driving absolute reductions to achieve carbon neutrality, where necessary, we will balance remaining emissions with carbon offsets. We anticipate that the majority of our progress toward meeting our 2030 goal will be achieved through absolute reductions of direct emissions and energy use achieved through operational investments, smart power sourcing, and elimination of waste. Our employees are using lean to hold site-specific sustainability assessments, identify energy reduction opportunities, and calculate and track costs and paybacks. LM Wind Power pioneered carbon neutrality in the wind industry and has been carbon neutral since 2018. For more information, click here.
As a manufacturing company, the emissions of our production processes will have a direct impact on the emissions profile of our products. Part of our decarbonization program includes reduction of our emissions through operational efficiencies. EHS (Environment, Health & Safety) and facility teams implement a variety of activities under the ISO 14001 and in some sites ISO 50001 management systems to reduce our environmental footprint and energy consumption at our manufacturing sites. As an ongoing enabling workstream for continuous improvement, we worked on establishing even more granular and automated reporting across our emissions sources. We’re applying what we call a ‘lean decarbonization’ approach, driving significant operational savings through energy efficiency and increased supply of cost-effective renewable electricity secured e.g. through long term PPAs. Lean thinking and sustainable operations go hand in hand.
Smart power sourcing:
While having a strong focus on reducing our emissions through energy efficiency and reduction efforts, the electricity consumption still represents a significant proportion of our operational footprint. We deliver on that commitment through a combination of onsite solar installations, long term PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) from new renewable energy assets, green tariffs and Environmental Attribute Certificates. We’ve secured PPAs for our operations in India and Europe in partnership with customers, that deliver direct savings on our electricity cost and allow us to hedge against rising electricity prices. The Europe PPA recently closed in Spain will reduce GE Renewable Energy’s emissions by ~13k tCO2e annually.
ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH AND SAFETY AT GE
At GE Renewable Energy, we are committed to bringing everyone home safely every day. Whether it be our employees, contractors, customers or visitors at our sites, we aim to protect every single person from harm. EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) is a shared responsibility, everyone is accountable and owns it. In October 2020, we introduced a new EHS philosophy called ‘Vision Safe‘, which centers around three key pillars. This philosophy is our endgame, our future of work, together as one team to make sure no harm comes to the people working with us and the environments that surround us. Vision safe is in line with our 2020-2022 EHS Cultural transformation focus and includes actionable programs like Plan, Do, Review, Competency models to move EHS to the frontline managers and develop their skillsets, the creation of a fully intelligent Data & Analytics system, and more.
INCLUSION & DIVERSITY
At GE, we believe in the value of your unique identity, background, and experiences. We are committed to fostering an inclusive culture, where everyone feels empowered to do their best work because they feel accepted, respected, and that they belong.
By embracing diverse teams and perspectives, we are better equipped to building a world that works.
In 2022 we published our Diversity Annual Report as part of our 2022 Sustainability Report to transparently share our diversity data and hold ourselves accountable for continuous improvement [see pages 72-80 of Sustainability Report].
GE also embrace and support diversity in our community engagement exemplified among others with the Next Engineers program. Read more.
The Green Team Network was formed in 2018 by a group of passionate employees who were inspired by the company’s decarbonization ambitions. Today, the network has grown across GE, forming the newest company-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG) that connects and motivates hundreds of employees to get involved in and lead sustainability initiatives at their sites and in their communities. Through education, action, and best practice sharing, the Green Team Network takes a grassroots-driven approach to supporting and furthering GE’s sustainability goals. Members work across businesses, locally, regionally, and nationally, to connect and align objectives aimed at lowering GE’s carbon footprint and reducing environmental impacts.
For more information, click here.
Our product stewardship program reflects the way we govern the environmental and safety impacts of our products across their lifecycle. Product stewardship focuses on managing the energy, water and materials that are deployed in the production, use and disposal of a product, along with managing product safety, at all stages of the product life cycle.
PRODUCTS FOR A LOW-CARBON ECONOMY
All types of mainstream power generation technologies result in carbon emissions over its lifecycle. Even technologies that utilize renewable energy and natural resources release emissions. GE Renewable Energy provides a wide range of products and solutions that aid the clean energy transition to help limit the global warming global warming to 1.5 ̊C above pre-industrial levels.
Hydro Pumped-Storage solutions can act as giant batteries that can help solve grid stability challenges: water is pumped from the lower to the upper reservoir in times of surplus energy and, in times of demand, water from the upper reservoir is released, generating electricity as the water passes through the turbine.
See how CNN described the Nant de Drance pumped storage hydropower plant that provides the same energy storage capacity as 400,000 electric car batteries. For more information, click here.
g³ Bringing novel solutions to the market
SF₆ is an insulating and switching gas used by the transmission industry in high-voltage substation equipment, and is one of the most potent greenhouse gasses in existence. To address this and responding to grid operators across the world becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact, GE offers a commercially available and viable alternative to SF₆ to help utilities and industries reduce their environmental impact. g³, G3(pronounced "g" cubed) is GE's game-changing alternative to SF₆ gas, developed for HV electrical transmission equipment. g³ products feature a drastically reduced environmental impact: more than 99% less gas global warming potential (GWP), comparatively. It will take time to transition completely from SF₆ and GE Renewable Energy continues to bolster preventative measures to avoid leaks as well as strengthening detective measures to quickly contain when a leak occurs. In parallel, we are exploring use of g³ in other products in the renewable energy portfolio beyond grid solutions to enable further decarbonization.
LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT & ECO-DESIGN
GE Renewable Energy is committed to develop a deeper understanding of the environmental impacts of our products through mapping material flows, volumes and composition to inform strategy and actions. We intend to minimize the environmental footprint of our products, whether it is through redirecting waste materials and packaging destined for landfill or increasing control of hazardous or harmful substances to eliminate adverse environmental impacts.
For that purpose, the GE Renewable Energy businesses have embarked on the path of eco-design, integrating the environment into the design phase alongside other conventional design parameters, addressing customer expectations, technical performances, cost control, etc.
One of the core pillars of eco-design is the lifecycle assessment of our products, where our businesses assess the environmental impacts of their products, applying ISO 14040 LCA methodology. The LCA calculations are done in an LCA software called SimaPro, and communication to the customer is typically eco-label type III certified EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) and also eco-label type II PEPs (Product Environmental Profiles). Internally, we use the results of the LCA to drive continuous improvements of our product design, materials and overall life-cycle environmental footprint.
More than 70 Product Environmental Profiles across GE Renewable Energy’s portfolio are available so far, covering:
• Cypress Platform
• Haliade-X Platform
• Gas-Insulated Substations
• Live tank circuit-breakers
• Dead tank circuit-breakers
• Generator circuit-breakers
• Air-insulated disconnectors
• HVDC valves
The Product Environment Profiles are periodically updated with new data and new products.
*Graph to the left from Cypress 5.5-158 Onshore Wind Turbine EPD
For product stewardship, circular economy is the enabling methodology to manage resources efficiently in a regenerative and restorative way across the product life cycle. It means viewing waste streams as inputs, reducing dependency on virgin materials by recapturing lost materials and resources, and redirecting them back into the economy. We are committed to: Increase the circularity of our products through reclamation, refurbishment and recycling initiatives, and evaluate the design of our products to incorporate circular thinking.
We think about product stewardship and circularity standards with a holistic end-to-end view of products, considering their full life cycle and the implications of the deployed energy, materials and water on the environment and product safety. We will align these standards with our decarbonization goals.
Some of the Circular Economy principles we are implementing across our businesses:
In GE Renewable Energy, circular design will play a pivotal role in supporting the transition away from our traditional linear models of take, make and waste. Our ambition is to increasingly design our products based on the circularity principles of reducing material inputs, enabling product or component reuse and securing recyclability at end of life.
The manufacturing process of our renewable energy equipment is an important step to embed circular principles and novel processes. Here, we are challenging traditional processes, leveraging technology that help reduce cost from material use and waste, both in physical and process terms.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is an advanced manufacturing that describes technologies that allows for goods to be produced via laying or “3D printing” of materials. This process has been rapidly developing over the last decade and shows great potential in reducing the need for energy- and resource-intensive manufacturing processes, which reduces the amount of material required in the supply chain and enables more environmentally friendly practices.
Wind tower examples
GE Renewable Energy partnered with COBOD and LafargeHolcim to co-develop record-tall wind turbine towers with 3D-printed concrete bases. The first prototype is a 10-meter-high tower pedestal and was built successfully in 2019. Concrete AM allows for design flexibility and logistic simplification of massive components, reducing the carbon footprint for transportation.
Based on an independent third party LCA, an additive concrete tower pedestal reduces the global warming potential by 25% vs a traditional steel tower with the same height, mainly due to the additive process material savings, transport reduction and use of materials with lower embodied carbon.
Wind blade example
GE Renewable Energy has formed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to 3D-print wind turbine blade tips. These tip caps are the most hardworking section of the blade, in fact the last 10 to 15 meters of a modern blade captures 40% of the energy that spins the turbine. By using additive manufacturing for blade parts, the cost of producing and maintaining the wind turbine will drop and efficiency will increase, leading to the overall cost of electricity falling. Lastly, thermoplastic blade tips could be melted down and recycled more easily than the traditional fiberglass or carbon fibers at the end of service, improving the ability to feed them back into a circular loop. For more information, See here
Zero waste manufacturing
One of our businesses, LM Wind Power, in 2021 announced a new manufacturing zero waste blades by 2030 target. In practice, it means LM Wind Power will send no packaging and materials from blade manufacturing to landfill or incineration without energy recovery by 2030.
Part of the circular principles, extending the lifetime of our equipment will promote long-lasting products and retain their raw materials and components value for longer periods.
Wind repairing services
GE’s wind businesses offer Advanced Repairing and Maintenance service agreements. Drive Train, Blades, and Field Services can all be deployed to improve the quality of a turbine and enhance product and wind farm lifetime. For more information, click here
Hydro power refurbishment & upgrade
GE’s Hydro business provides services that work to extend the life of the hydro plants and improve performance. Beyond the various repair options that help maintain and restore hydro plants when needed, there are options to refurbish and upgrade plants tailored to the customer and asset at hand. This means that even after the maintenance and repairs, GE has different methods for lifetime extension assessments. Lifetime extension inspection (LEI) is a visual inspection of all load transferring and safety-related components. For more information, See here
Wind turbines repowering
Wind Turbine repowering involves replacing older unites with new, higher capacity turbines. On average, wind turbines repowered by GE have seen a 20 percent increase in annual energy production and 1.5 percent availability improvement as compared to their pre-repower performance. Repowering existing wind turbine technology is a complex process that requires the ability to blend new upgraded technology and equipment with aging machines, but it can be a highly attractive way for wind farm owners to optimize performance of their assets and investment.
GE Renewable Energy’s RePower program can include increasing a turbine’s rotor size, and upgrades to the gearbox, hub, main shaft, and main bearing assembly. We also have the capability to repower non-GE wind turbines which our customers have taken advantage of. For more information, See here
GE Renewable Energy puts an emphasis on remanufacturing processes for components in order to extend the lifetime of parts and contribute to the reuse of products. By remanufacturing critical components, such as the gearbox, generator, and main shaft of turbines, we reduce the need for new raw material extraction and associated emissions, eliminate 3rd party suppliers, and lower overall costs.
Wind remanufacturing facilities
USA - GE Amarillo Remanufacturing Center is a 115,000 ft² shop that has world-class remanufacturing capabilities. The location is optimal for logistics in the US and has extensive capabilities per GE’s Global Reman Service Centers. There are already plans for gearbox, generator, main shaft, and minor component remanufacturing.
EU - The Onshore Turbine Repair Center in Noblejas, Spain will expand its indoor capacity by 5000 m2 and will include new bays and the ability to segregate the disassembly, cleaning, and inspection for remanufacturing processes from the assembly areas. The new space will also allow GE Renewable Energy to continue to serve a variety of additional customer needs. For more information, See here
Renewable energy equipment installations are expected to grow in the coming decades, making it even more important to promote an effective portfolio of EoL strategies and programs.
Wind europe announcement landfill ban
GE Renewable Energy together with other Wind Europe members called for a Europe-wide ban on landfilling turbine blades starting 2025. The Wind Europe members are working to find solutions and advocating for regulations to decrease the amount of turbine blades in landfills. GE Renewable Energy are also working to address the lack of recycling ability of blades and have entered into a number of partnerships with the aim of finding new ways to reuse blade composite materials or enhance the circular economy of the turbine blades.
Veolia US partnership
GE Renewable Energy and Veolia North America have made the first agreement of Blade recycling of its kind in US Wind Industry. Veolia will recycle blades removed from US-based onshore turbines during upgrades and repowering efforts. The blades will be used as raw material for cement through cement kiln co-processing technology. Overall, this agreement is predicted to enable a 27% net reduction of CO2 emissions from cement production while helping the life circularity of the wind turbines. For more information, see here.
Zebra R&D project
LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy Business, is working on the Zebra (Zero wastE Blade REseArch) Project, driven by IRT Jules Verne, to create 100% recyclable wind turbine blades. The project has brought together a strategic consortium that represents the full value chain: from development of material, to blade manufacturing, to wind turbine operation and decommissioning, and finally recycling of the decommissioned blade material.
DecomBlades R&D project
In the DecomBlades project, LM Wind Power along with 10 other project partners, will investigate and develop solutions to recycle the composite material in wind turbine blades. The project will focus on 3 specific processes: shredding of wind turbine blades, use of shredded blade material in cement production, and a method to separate the composite material under high temperatures (pyrolysis). The project is supported by Innovation Fund Denmark’s Grand Solutions program. For more information, see here.
Product Regulatory Compliance
Each product follows the Product Regulatory Compliance that involves electronic equipment, batteries, chemicals, and minerals. GE Renewable Energy values product responsibility in the components that are used including how they are discarded of, and taking into account the impacts on the environment and human safety. For more information, see here.
Our Supply Chain
The Supply Chain Sustainability Program is an important pillar in our multi-year transition of real decarbonization of GE Renewable Energy’s operations and value chain.
Managing our Supply Chain
GE has a long-standing commitment to responsible supply chain management. Since 2002, GE has implemented an extensive Supplier Responsibility Governance (SRG) Program to build and strengthen an ethical, sustainable, and transparent global supply chain and establish clear social and environmental responsibility requirements for suppliers.
In addition to the GE wide Supplier Responsibility Governance Program, GE Renewable Energy launched a further effort in 2021, in partnership with supply chain sustainability assessment company, EcoVadis, to profile and map the largest and most important suppliers on their sustainability performance with a special emphasis on climate and decarbonization. The EcoVadis assessment indicates the quality of a company’s sustainability management system through its policies, actions, and results. This intelligence feeds our strategy to optimize sustainability performance in our supplier base in line with our own Sustainability goals and what GE’s customers ask of us.
Scope 3 Emissions
As part of GE’s journey to reduce GHG emissions beyond scope 1 and 2, the company set a further ambition to be a net zero company by 2050—including not just GE’s operations, but also the Scope 3 emissions from the use of our products. Many of our customers operate in carbon intensive industries that are at the center of the energy transition and partnering with them to help reduce emissions with our technology will play an important role in the broader decarbonization of the economy. In GE Renewable Energy, our largest emission source comes from our supply chain including transportation of heavy components. This is also a significant driver of cost, so the company is continuously working to promote local manufacturing, have initiated the first conversations with logistics providers to explore how to drive decarbonization through planning and other optimization initiatives and ultimately technology upgrades of their fleets.
REDUCING OUR LOGISTICS & DISTRIBUTION FOOTPRINT
Currently, we are working on a variety of activities across our businesses around the globe to decarbonize our logistical operations, such as:
Stay Ashore – Offshore Wind innovates digital solutions for remote operations and maintenance to reduce the time spent offshore and saving transportation emissions.
Hybrid Vessels – Offshore is planning to use hybrid vessels to decarbonize their maintenance and logistic operations.
Low Carbon Fleet – Replacement of traditional combustion engines vehicles for electric Vehicles and low carbon fuels such as ethanol in Brazil.
The social aspect, involving both human rights and ethics, of sustainability plays a huge role in a production company such as GE. GE’s Human Rights Statement of Principles is the cornerstone of our global program, grounding our commitment to human rights in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact. This document calls out who we work with on these efforts such as business partners and entities in our value chain, agents, suppliers, and vendors. It also expands on the commitments with a deeper level of detail of principles we adhere to.