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General Electric Getting Greener
Jamais Cascio, 26 Aug 04

We've mentioned the growing G.E. interest in alternative energy before, but "GE: Green and European," in the current Technology Review, makes it clear how big the firm's efforts actually are. G.E. is set to open up a $52 million renewable energy research lab near Munich. The lab will look at ways to advance wind turbine, fuel cell, biomass, and polymer-photovoltaic technologies, as well as developing the systems required to integrate less-steady alternative power sources into existing electrical grids.

It’s all part of GE’s strategy to dominate the market for renewable-energy technologies. Two years ago, GE bought Enron’s wind business and expanded aggressively into the wind power market. Today, GE Wind Energy is one of the company’s fastest-growing divisions and is heading for world market leadership, having picked up another 9 percent of market share from 2002 to 2003, according to BTM Consult in Denmark. And in March, the company acquired the U.S. photovoltaics manufacturer AstroPower and now sells complete photovoltaics systems for homes. “In ten years, we will rule the world,” predicts Vlatko Vlatkovic, GE global technology leader for electronic and photonic systems

Um, okay. I presume he means that metaphorically. The Technology Review article notes that G.E.'s move into Germany is the direct result of the decision by its main European rival, Siemens, not to make renewable energy a core part of its business. It's a result that both confirms and counfounds expectations. Here we have a major American corporation deciding that renewable power is a future market worth pursuing (surprise!), but also deciding that Europe is where it should focus its environmental research money and industrial-collaboration efforts (not a surprise).

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