The Biggest Company You Didn't Know Was a Green Energy Leader


OK, if you follow cleantech a lot (e.g. if you are a CleanTechnica subscriber), you might very well know that the company below is a cleantech and green energy leader. If you aren’t a cleantech nerd, however, but know enough about energy options to know that solar and wind energy are highly needed today (who doesn’t know that?), you might be surprised (and happy) to find out that the 6th-largest corporation in the United States has been focusing more and more attention on these clean energy options.

That company (if you haven’t memorized the order of the largest companies in the U.S.) is GE (aka General Electric). Why talk about this today, you ask? Well, GE just unveiled a GE annual report visualization tool that gives a good, fun, interactive summary of some of its huge cleantech progress in the past few years (as well as its progress in and focus on many other arenas).

I thought this visualization app offered a good opportunity to discuss the company’s strong focus on this important sector.

GE Data Visualization App Reflects U.S. & World Progress

First of all, I would note this interesting line from from the visualization app page: “It’s true. We’ve scanned 6,000 pages of GE’s annual reports to build this interactive visualization. But why? What’s the point? Not only does this provide a rich history of how GE has always been at work building, moving, powering and curing the world, but it is a true reflection of how the economy, U.S. and the world as a whole has progressed from 1892 until 2011.”

I will dig into GE’s role in solar and wind power development in a little more detail in some future posts, but keeping that above statement in mind, take a look at the screenshots of the “wind” and “solar” keyword pages and some of my thoughts on them:

Reflecting, and helping to drive, wind power growth in the U.S. and abroad in the past ten years or so, GE annual reports since 2002 are chock-full of wind turbine, wind investment, and wind power growth mentions. Several of those years, wind power was the fastest-growing energy sector. GE’s role in that has been providing wind turbines for a large number of wind power projects, and also investing a ton of capital into such projects.

solar power ge

Solar power generated more enthusiasm, society-wide, than other renewable energy options back in the “early days” (1970s), and GE’s annual reports reflect that. 1970s annual reports include mention of solar power potential (far down the road from then), demonstration projects, and early solar technology development. However, while solar is taking a little longer than wind power to scale and become a major player in the electricity sector, it has improved and grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, and GE’s annual reports again reflect that. Notably, GE’s increasing mention of solar in annual reports is not just about solar potential or nascent technologies, it’s about large-scale solar project and commercially viable solar technology.

I think I’ll dig a bit more into GE’s involvement in solar and wind soon, but for now, if you’re interested in learning more, check out GE’s interactive annual report data visualization app. On that page, you can actually click on each of those colored squares to see where and how the keywords words mentioned in GE’s reports.

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