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Keeping It Cool: New ‘Eco’ Technologies Are Helping Countries Reach Their Carbon-Cutting Goals

The state of Victoria, Australia, boasts some truly spectacular sites ranging from striking coastlines to the peaks of the Australian Alps, with acres of vineyards and the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Melbourne in between. Unfortunately, the area is also known for its pollution. “According to Environment Victoria, Victorians have the unenviable badge of being the most polluting people per capita on the planet,” says Tanya Jackson, asset management services manager for the renewable energy company RES Australia. “The brown coal the region uses [to generate heat and electricity] creates more pollution than black coal or natural gas.”

This reality clashes with a goal Australia has set for itself. The country wants to source 23.5 percent of the country’s energy needs from renewables by 2020. The state of Victoria, however, has introduced its own, more aggressive target of 25 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025. Victoria is helping the country with a new wind farm in Ararat, an agricultural region about 180 kilometers (112 miles) northwest of Melbourne. Spread over more than 5,000 hectares of rolling green hills, Ararat Wind Farm, which started generating power to the grid in September last year, is the third-largest wind farm in Australia. The US$450 million development holds 75 GE wind turbines and has the capacity to generate enough energy to power 120,000 homes — or 6 percent of all Victoria households — per year.

This also “equates to 280,000 metric tonnes of savings in carbon dioxide annually,” Jackson says. “It’s the equivalent of 6,500 full of coal.” Her company, RES Australia, runs the wind farm, which GE Capital partially financed and which uses GE wind turbines.

Ararat is an example of what’s possible with GE solutions that benefit both the bottom line and the environment. GE says that since 2005, such technologies have reduced global carbon dioxide emissions by 5.5 gigatonnes and have provided costs savings of over $3.4 billion to GE and its customers. GE’s wind power alone has displaced 160 million tonnes of coal and avoided 600 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emission.

Here’s a look at how other GE technologies are helping make the world a greener place:

Gas Turbines

Renewable energy isn’t right for every market. Some countries are just trying to get consistent energy to their growing population, and some places need to upgrade, not replace, old power plants. The 9HA gas turbine has been named the world’s most efficient by Guinness World Records. Image credit: GE Power. Read more here

LED Lights

Businesses can find big saving through small changes — like exchanging old-fashioned lights for LEDs. Companies like GM and JPMorgan have started replacing all of their lights with GE’s smart LEDs, leading to savings of 6,400 gigawatt hours in the U.S. alone. Image credit: Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors. Read more here.

Evolution Locomotives

Railroads are critical for moving cargo, but trains emit 4.1 million metric tonnes of carbon annually in the U.S. GE’s Evolution Series locomotives conserve fuel and reduce the environmental impact of the trains. Image credit: GE Transportation. Read more here.

Hydropower

Hydropower, where turbines are spun from fast-moving water, is among the oldest forms of clean electricity generation, but it’s getting an upgrade. GE’s hydro turbines and generators represent 29 percent of all hydropower generation.Image credit: Caio Coronel/Itaipu Binacional. Read more here.

 

Battery-Gas Turbine Hybrid

Power grids often keep gas turbines running in standby mode so they can power up quickly if needed. GE’s LM6000 turbine offers a more environmentally friendly solution with an integrated battery that helps a turbine power up in 5 minutes. Image credit: GE Reports/GE Energy Connections. Read more here.

GEnx Commercial Airline Engine

Air travel is on the rise, which means more planes emitting more carbon into the air. To make air travel more efficient, GE’s newest jet engine is built using ceramic matrix composite materials that are tough as metal but one-third the weight. Image credit: GE Aviation. Read more here.

Jenbacher Gas Engines

This Jenbacher engine takes power-generating efficiency to the next level. The engine is the most efficient GE has ever built, and by also supplying customers with heat and hot water, its thermal efficiency can reach 90 percent. Read more here.

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