The Global View

GE:$5 billion spent on green research, $10 billion more to come

Since launching its “ecomagination” strategy in 2005 to build its business while also finding ways to solve pressing environmental problems, GE says it’s now spent more than $5 billion on research and development programmes.

The company expects to spend another $10 billion on such efforts over the next five years.

GE made the announcement today upon releasing its 2009 ecomagination annual report, which reviews past milestones and announces new commitments on the initiative’s fifth anniversary. According to the report, GE earned revenues of more than $18 billion last year from energy-efficient and eco-friendly products and services. The company has also reduced greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 22 per cent since 2004.

“Ecomagination is one of our most successful cross-company business initiatives,” said Jeff Immelt, GE’s chairman and CEO. “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.”

Steve Fludder, vice president of ecomagination, added, “We have grown ecomagination revenue and research and development every year, even in challenging economic times. Given our success, we are committing to do more. The vision of a cleaner, affordable, secure and globally accessible energy infrastructure inspires and motivates us.”

Among the new ecomagination commitments GE is making:

  1. Double investment in clean research and development – GE invested $1.5 billion on ecomagination research and development in 2009, reaching the commitment to double its annual investment by 2010 one year ahead of schedule.
  2. Increase revenues from ecomagination products – In 2009, ecomagination revenues grew six per cent to $18 billion even in a challenging global environment. GE now aims to grow that revenue at twice the rate of total company revenue in the next five years.
  3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency – By 2015, GE aims to improve the energy intensity of its operations by 50 per cent, and to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent compared to 2004 levels.
  4. Reduce water use and improve water reuse – The has company reduced its water consumption by 30 per cent since 2006, surpassing its original goal of a 20 per cent cut by 2012.
  5. Keep the public informed – Later this year, GE plans to launch an updated website for ecomagination to provide more communication with the public, customers and other stakeholders.