GE’s Ecomagination program addresses environmental challenges

“We face numerous challenges around resource supply and demand, which is creating serious economic and environmental strains,” said Simon Olivier, Vice President – Growth, Market Strategy and Business Development for GE Canada as he addressed participants during the opening keynote.

GE tackled this issue with an innovative initiative, the Ecomagination program, which aims to resolve environmental challenges while delivering efficiency and profitability to customers. GE will be investing $25 billion by 2020 in the program focused on three key concepts: 1) the industrial internet 2) the water-energy nexus, and 3) the rise of distributed power.

Olivier explained the industrial internet as “machines connected by and to the internet,” which will enable users to draw on millions of data points to predict and interpret equipment performance. “Based on real-time data, we will be ready for the unexpected, rather than waiting for the unexpected.” The power of big data and software analytics can turn data into profit margin and achieve what GE calls the power of one: each per centage of efficiency counts.

Olivier went on to discuss the water-energy nexus, noting the direct correlation between the consumption of energy and water. Up to 50 per cent of global industrial water consumption is used to generate power, which represents “enormous opportunities to target water consumption for efficiency measures.” GE’s patented water evaporation technology, for example, recycles 97 per cent of de-oiled water in the oil sands. “GE’s technology development will increasingly be gearing towards closing the loop on water use or removing water from the equation altogether.”

Distributed power is emerging as a big part of the solution to the challenge of old electricity infrastructure inefficiencies and new infrastructure demands. Olivier predicted that smaller, more flexible and highly efficient electricity generation technologies will account for 42 per cent of additional global capacity, a doubling of the share of distributed power in two decades. He also noted the growth in the unconventional production of natural gas, which could make it the future fuel of choice for remote communities and resource extraction industries.

Conservationism and energy efficiency are not only environmental pursuits but are also technology and business profitability goals. “It is up to us to channel the discussion in a direction that draws on the know-how of all people, in industry, academia and government to ride this exciting new wave of opportunity. We as Canadians must rise as global leaders in determining how and how much we power our industries and our lives can give rise to prosperity and a safer, healthier environment for generations to come.”

Source: NRC Heads Up: Building Energy Efficiency

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