GE to Invest $10B More in Ecomagination R&D by 2015

GE to Invest $10B More in Ecomagination R&D by 2015

General Electric is committing $10 billion to ecomagination research and development in the next five years after reaching a $5 billion investment milestone for its portfolio of environmentally sensitive products, services and technology.

GE, the world's largest industrial company, announced the new goal today with the release of its annual ecomagination report. The 50-page report details the firm's progress in 2009 toward a series of ambitious environmental goals that were set in 2005 -- when the company launched ecomagination -- and include increasingly higher benchmarks for performance.

The report highlights the company's accomplishment of surpassing its goal for ecomagination R&D investment by hitting the $5 billion target in 2009, a year early. The commitment to double the investment in the next five years means that GE plans to put a total of $15 billion toward ecomagination by 2015 when the initiative marks its 10th anniversary.

GE also reported:

  • A 6 percent increase in revenue, bringing it to $18 billion in 2009 for more than 90 products. There were just 17 products when ecomagination launched and about 80 were in place by the end of 2008. GE hailed the 2009 sales figure, pointing out that revenue rose despite persisting challenges in the economy. The growth was modest, however, compared to the 21 percent jump recorded in 2008.

    For coming years, the company is reframing its stretch goal for revenue, which in 2005 was set at $20 billion in ecomagination sales by 2010 and then was bumped up in last year's report to $25 billion by 2010. GE says it is well on its way to the $20 billion mark in sales and is now committing that "ecomagination revenue will grow at twice the rate of total company revenue in the next five years, making ecomagination an even larger proportion of total company sales [as illustrated in the chart below]."

  • Reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improved energy efficiency of operations. GE reduced its GHG emissions by 22 percent last year compared to 2004. GE improved its energy intensity by 34 percent compared to 2004; its goal was a 30 percent reduction by 2010. GHG intensity also improved by logging a 39 percent reduction compared to 2004. Goals for 2015 include improving energy intensity of operations by 50 percent and reducing absolute GHG emissions by 25 percent when compared against a 2004 baseline.

  • Reduced water use. The company cut water consumption 30 percent compared to a 2006 baseline. Its original goal was 20 percent by 2012.

The company also pledged to maintain its engagement with the public and said it will update ecomagination.com to foster the dialogue.

GE summarized its progress and ongoing goals in this chart:



Ecomagination offerings range from energy efficient smart appliances for the home to high-performance engines for industry, and GE investments in projects and technology to generate and save energy span everything from solar power systems to using cow manure to produce biofuel.

The firm's commitment to boost its ecomagination R&D investment reinforces its strategy to bet big on cleantech as Kevin Skillern, managing director of Venture Capital for GE Energy Financial Services, outlined in a podcast interview with GreenBiz Senior Writer Marc Gunther last fall.

In the report today, the company noted:

"Global energy use continues to grow, while interest in renewable energy is at an all-time high. World demand for electricity is expected to double by 2030, driven in part by the increased needs of developing nations."

 

"Ecomagination is one of our most successful cross-company business initiatives. If counted separately, 2009 ecomagination revenues would equal that of a Fortune 130 company and ecomagination revenue growth equals almost two times the company average," GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said in a statement. "We have made bold investments in ecomagination research and development and it has resulted in strong returns for shareholders."

The 2009 and previous ecomagination annual reports are available at www.ge.ecomagination.com.html/.

Images courtesy of GE.