Monday, June 28, 2010

Green Is Green

GE is investing some serious change in its "Ecomagination” environmental initiative --$10 billion over the next five years, to be precise:
GE has a whole lot faith in its ecomagination initiative. So much faith, in fact, that the company is pumping $10 billion into the project's R&D over the next 5 years--effectively doubling its investment from the past 5 years. The reason is simple: ecomagination is a cash cow, generating $70 billion in revenue since its inception in 2005. With the world's attention turned toward clean technology, that number will almost certainly grow.

Ecomagination projects are diverse, global, and span a variety of industrial and consumer platforms. They include investment in renewable energy and energy conservation, smart grid technology, water conservation, and development of energy efficient products for industrial and consumer use. Once again I say: when oh when will green technology prove it is comepetitive? {/snark} You can find a list of the many Ecomagination projects here.

What really blew my mind is this:

Ecomagination is so big that it may soon top the federal government's investments in research and development, according to Earth2Tech. The government spends approximately $5 billion annually on energy innovation R&D.

But GE isn't on a mission to best the government for fun--the company believes it will generate $25 billion in 2010, up from $18 billion in 2009. Over the next 5 years, GE hopes that ecomagination revenue will grow at twice the rate of the company's total revenue. If this doesn't prove that green technology is both a financially and ethically responsible investment, we're not sure what does.

The fact that our government invests such a paltry sum in new energy technology is very sad. It tells me that it is stuck in the past, tied to the old economy, and is not interested in partnering with private industry in creating the new energy future. Many of us have wanted to hear President Obama call for a "Manhattan Project for energy" (I prefer the term Apollo Project, since the Manhattan Project is what gave us the atomic bomb). We could do it right there in Tennessee -- the Manhattan Project, after all, is what gave us Oak Ridge. Nobody yammered about the need for the "free hand of the market" to develop atomic technology back then, indeed it was of strategic national importance. It seems to me that getting off fossil fuels and demonstrating our energy independence from foreign energy sources is at least as important to our national security as building deadly bombs.

Sadly, as I've said a thousand times before, what this nation lacks is not the technology nor the resources to make this happen but the political will. Too many people in positions of power under the thumb of too many people whose continued existence depends on us living in the past.

But there's hope. Green technology is coming, it's here, it's competitive, and it's profitable. While BP sets aside $20 billion to cleanup its mess in the Gulf of Mexico, GE allocates half that amount for a different kind of future. Its first $5 billion investment has now generated $70 billion in revenue: I ask you, who will get more for their investment? BP or GE? Simple question, simple answer.

Progress happens, whether the American Enteriprise Institute and Koch Industries likes it or not. Green technology is the wave of the future, people. And it’s profitable right now.

Climb on board or be left behind.