Friday, 27 March 2009

G.E.’s Green Chief: Bullish on Clean-Tech Future

G.E.’s Green Chief: Bullish on Clean-Tech Future
Steve FludderLibrado Romero/The New York Times“We expect the demand for new orders is going to pick up in the near future,” said Steve Fludder, a G.E. vice president.

Steve Fludder, the vice-president of General Electric’s “Ecomagination” unit, which concentrates on developing green technologies, expressed optimism Wednesday that deals would start flowing again in the wake of the stimulus bill — but said that his business was still feeling the force of the financial crisis.

“I don’t think that we can declare victory per se,” Mr. Fludder said in an interview with Green Inc. and The New York Times.

The Ecomagination unit, which has been growing about 20 percent a year since its inception in 2005, and which currently pulls in annual revenue of $17 billion, will be hard-pressed to make its $25 billion target next year, Mr. Fludder indicated. “I think the $25 billion, which was a target that was set long before anybody knew this economic crisis was coming, is under pressure next year,” he said.

In the wind turbine business — an example of an industry hard hit by the crisis — the company has experienced a drop in demand for new orders, Mr. Fludder said, adding, “We expect the demand for new orders is going to pick up in the near future.”

Mr. Fludder also foresees growth potential in carbon capture and storage technologies, as well as nuclear power.

Coal will continue to be a major source of energy for some time, he said — and the technology for removing carbon emissions associated with coal-fired power is available. The issue, he said, is making it cost-effective. (Other experts have drawn similar conclusions.)

Mr. Fludder also foresees growth in the nuclear power business in the United States, despite the decades-long drought in new plants. “Look at what nuclear power provides,” he argued. “It provides energy independence; it provides cost-effective baseload power generation; and it provides carbon-free power.”

In the meantime, Mr. Fludder emphasized the importance of energy efficiency. The G.E. airplane engine that will go into the delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be 14 percent more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, which is in the Boeing 767.

As for the most exciting addition to Ecomagination’s portfolio, Mr. Fludder singled out wastewater treatment technology — which provides homes and businesses with the ability to recycle wastewater and use it in toilets and on lawns (G.E. has such a system in place in a Battery Park apartment complex in New York City).

“I liked it so much I put one of those in my house,” he said.

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