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First Takes: GE Spends $3.2B to Buy Converteam; Climate Change Driving US Immigration? & More...

<p>GE&nbsp;Buys Converteam, climate change may be a factor in Mexican emigration to U.S., PwC hires Andrew Winston as an advisor, and more.</p>

• GE Becomes New Owner of Converteam: It's official -- GE's $3.2 billion purchase of Converteam closed today, solidifying GE's position in the multi-sector energy efficiency, electricification and automation industry. The sale brings Converteam's power conversion and automation systems into the GE fold, along with its high-efficiency power electronics, motors and generators that are used throughout the renewable energy industry, along with the oil and gas, metals and mining sectors. The move caps an $11 billion spending spree by GE over the last nine months targeting infrastructure segments: Dresser, Inc., Wellstream Holdings plc., Lineage Power, and Well Support (from John Wood Group plc).

• PwC Hires 'Green to Gold' Author: PricewaterhouseCoopers has tapped Andrew Winston as an independent sustainability advisor to its Sustainable Business Solutions Practice. Winston, founder of Winston Eco-Strategies, is an influential figure in the green business world, having penned the oft-referenced book, "Green to Gold," and more recently, "Green Recovery." According to a statement from PwC, Winston will help the company identify sustainability risks and opportunities for its clients, in addition to delivering keynote speeches, webinars and trainings geared toward reaching internal and external audiences.

• Conventional Flame Retardants May Go Up in Smoke: Researchers revealed this week they may have a tiny solution to the big toxic conundrum of flame retardants used in children's clothing and car seats. A more environmentally-friendly solution may be a technology called "intumescent," a water-based, nano coating long used to protect exposed interior steel beams in buildings. "This work is the first demonstration of a polymer-based 'nano intumescent'," said Jaime C. Grunlan, who led the research. "We believe it has great potential for use as flame retardants on clothing and other materials in order to avoid some of the disadvantages of existing products." More testing to come.

• Climate Change Driving Mexican Migration to U.S.? A Spanish banking group recently released a report linking climate change to Mexican migration to the U.S. According to a study from BBVA, environmental effects from climate change, such as soil erosion and changing rainfall patterns may have played a role in emigration patterns to the U.S. over the last several decades, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports. "It is reasonable to say that climate has been a factor encouraging some people to leave their communities and relocate to other regions, whether inside the country to more urban areas or even emigrating abroad," the report concluded.

• Flatter is Better When It Comes to Potatoes: Researchers have discovered that using flat bed systems in commercial potato production can improve water use efficiency by as much as 12 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ridged rows planting has been the norm for much of the potato growing industry in Idaho for the last century, but this allows irrigation runoff to collect and percolate below the roots, leading to more nitrate leaching from the soil. Flat beds, on the other hand, allows more water to reach the roots, which can ultimately lead to less water used to generate higher yields and profits.  

Image courtesy of Converteam.

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