General Electric appears to be on a power trip of late. First, there’s its emerging leadership in renewables. Over the past two years, it has purchased the skeletal remains of a bankrupt wind company (Enron Wind) and a bankrupt solar company (Astropower). Both acquisitions are now part of the company’s $18 billion GE Energy unit. The wind business unit has become one of the world’s largest producers of turbines, while the solar operation is poised to be a leading player in that fast-growing market.
But renewables, as everyone knows, aren’t enough. As several pundits have put it, there’s the equivalent of several Saudi Arabias worth of oil to be found in energy efficiency — of vehicles, buildings, and industrial processes.
Toward that end, GE has announced a three-year partnership aimed at dramatically increasing the efficiency of American industry by developing wireless sensor networks and systems to improve the efficiency of electric motors, which account for nearly two-thirds of total U.S. industrial energy consumption.