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The GE Brief – July 18, 2019

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July 18, 2019



In 2012, Erik Schiemann launched GE’s solar business as a nimble startup that would design and build renewable on-site energy solutions for the company’s customers. Today GE Solar has more than 60 employees — with a collective experience exceeding 3 gigawatts — and has developed more than 125 solar power sites across industrial, commercial and governmental sectors. And its star continues to rise: This week, the company announced that it was partnering with investment giant BlackRock Real Assets to form Distributed Solar Development (DSD), a new industry powerhouse that will design, build, own and operate distributed solar solutions for its customers. GE will retain 20% of the business, while BlackRock takes an 80% stake.

Star power: With $5 billion invested in over 250 solar and wind projects globally, BlackRock already operates one of the largest renewable power equity investment platforms in the world — so the new partnership will supercharge DSD’s solar expertise with capital. “This investment will deepen our clients’ access to the tremendous growth potential in the U.S. solar industry,” says David Giordano, global head of renewable power at BlackRock. “DSD offers end-to-end in-house capabilities and a strong team of experts from across the commercial and industrial value chain.” The shiny new business is launching with ambitious goals: While the GE unit built about 100 megawatts of on-site solar projects annually, DSD hopes to quadruple that project pipeline in five years.

When Schiemann launched GE Solar, he said, “there was a lot of debate about what I was doing.” Click here to learn about how he was ahead of the curve on solar — and what’s next for the industry.



Now that Prime Day has come and gone, online shoppers can catch their breath — and so can Amazon, for whom the two-day sale is one of the top-grossing events of the year. The retail giant revolutionized online shopping in 2005 when it introduced its Prime shipping service, which has surged in popularity: In 2007 Amazon spent $2 billion on logistics and shipping, and last year it spent $62 billion. To keep up, Amazon has started operating its own network of cargo planes. It’s got 45 aircraft currently in the company fleet, with ambitious plans to increase the number to 70 planes sometime next year. How do you pull off such a massive investment in heavy equipment? You call up GE Capital Aviation Services, or GECAS, one of the largest aircraft leasing companies in the world. Amazon agreed to lease five planes from GECAS earlier this year — then, last month at the Paris Air Show, announced a deal for another 15.

New lease on life: Part of GECAS’ business involves taking some passenger planes approaching middle age — typically 16 years — and converting them to cargo planes. The planes then continue operating for another 16 to 20 years, leased to companies like Amazon. The deals announced this year were all for Boeing 737-800 freighters, which are smaller than the Boeing 767-300s that make up the bulk of Amazon’s fleet. Smaller planes provide an important link in Amazon’s shipping network — they can transport merchandise, for instance, from bigger hubs to the smaller nodes in the network where it’ll be loaded onto trucks for final delivery. “It’s more economical to fly a full 737 than a half-full 767,” says Sarah Rhodes, director of Amazon Air. “These aircraft are critical for us to ensure that we make our deliveries on time.”

Leasing aircraft for cargo is a big business — and GECAS is a major player in it. Learn more here.



This week marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moonwalk. To get there, the trio of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins relied on technology designed by GE, including computers monitoring the Saturn V rocket before takeoff, helmet visors and silicone rubber for the soles of their moon boots, as well as support during testing of the rocket’s powerful boosters. NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine, who led the agency during the first moon landing, also came aboard from GE. Helping put the first man on the moon, though, is one of many records GE has been part of throughout its long history. Just this month, GE Aviation’s new GE9X jet engine was certified by “Guinness World Records” as the most powerful commercial jet engine in the world. (It was already considered the largest.) From global aviation to extra-orbital space travel and everything in between, we’ve put together a collection of GE’s Greatest Hits: Record Breakers edition.

Trains, planes and … ferry boats? It’s not just flight the company’s has helped conquer. In 1966, railroad engineer Don Wetzel set a speed record for jet-powered trains that still stands today. (In the ultimate don’t-try-this-at-home project, Wetzel strapped a couple of surplus GE engines from an Air Force jet bomber to a stock commuter car.) The world’s fastest ferry, an Australian-built ship that transports passengers and cars between Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay, is powered by two GE gas turbines and can achieve speeds of 58.1 knots, or 67 mph. Then there’s tech powering the farthest-traveling satellites, the largest wind turbines, engines for the most efficient business jet, and — oh, yeah — the second-most powerful jet engine, too.

Click here for a slideshow of achievements — some famous, some less so — that’ve landed GE and its engineers in the record books.



How Greece Builds Wind Turbines on Mountains

Engineers aren’t letting Greece’s mountainous terrain hold them back from creating new wind farms.

Posted by GE on Wednesday, July 17, 2019


“People in the market started to say, ‘Wow, you might be on to something.’”

Erik Schiemann, founder and CEO of GE Solar


Quote: GE Reports. Image: From the collection of the Museum of Innovation and Science Schenectady.

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