GE powers ahead with green dreams

By Wang Qian (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-15 11:07
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Firm plans investment in cleaner coal, wind power, solar energy, biogas

TIANJIN - The General Electric Company continues to remain bullish on growth in China and will expand aggressively during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), said Mark Norbom, president and chief executive officer for GE China.

"We expect to grow faster than (the nation's) GDP," he told China Daily on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Summer Davos Forum meetings.

Clean energy will play a crucial role in GE's future development in China, especially during the next five years, he said. Cleaner-coal technology, wind and solar power and biogas are all included in GE's local development plan, Norbom said.

Since 2009, GE and the Shenhua Group Corporation have been promoting cleaner technologies to utilize coal more efficiently. "China needs to change its present energy consumption structure, as emissions are increasing due to the huge reliance on coal."

"Cleaner-coal technologies provide a way to use the abundant and low cost energy in a much cleaner way," he said.

China plans to reduce its carbon intensity rate - the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of GDP - by 40 to 45 percent by the end of 2020. Besides emission reduction technologies, GE is also looking at other green sectors like wind and solar power and biogas energy.

GE's wind equipment section plans to seek partnerships with local companies and hopes to generate as much energy as the government plans, Norbom said.

In an effort to help ease energy shortage and put tons of biowaste to good use, a 250,000-head cattle farm is coming up in northeastern China.

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The Liaoning Huishan Cow Farm will use animal dung to power four GE Jenbacher biogas engines and produce an estimated 38,000 MWh. It will also be the largest cow-powered biogas project in the world.

GE has technologies that can burn any kind of gas to energy, Norbom said.

He said GE is also in talks with the State Grid on developing smart grid technologies, a more efficient way to deliver and transmit electricity.

"Now as the next step, we are planning customer innovation centers, which will focusing more on closer ties with customers and local governments," he said.

"These centers will be in cities like Shenyang, Xi'an, Chengdu and south Guangzhou. We are going to add another 1,000 employees to boost our staff strength in research and development to 3,000," he said.

He said by focusing on the northern, western and southern regions, especially the north and west will help the company's growth plans to be in sync with the government plans.

Norbom expressed confidence that the overall investment environment will continue to improve for foreign businesses.

Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged the government would give equal treatment to foreign-invested and wholly Chinese firms in its procurement decisions.

"We will grow our investment here as we consider ourselves to be a Chinese company,"Norbom said.