GE ramps up solar investment


General Electric revealed that it invested $1.4 billion in solar projects last year, meaning its total solar development now exceeds $5 billion worldwide.

Boasting a total of 48 solar plants across six countries—Australia, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the US—GE Energy Financial Services investment in the sector is only around $1 billion off the UK’s entire investment in renewable energy, which according to Department of Energy and Climate Change figures, stands at £3.8 billion ($6 billion).

The company’s latest deal is to acquire a $100m stake in a $550m solar project planned for development by LS Power in Arizona.

The 1,160 acre plant will provide power to 53,000 Californian homes, whilst displacing 215,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, which is equivalent to taking nearly 40,000 cars off the road.

We started last year with the goal of increasing our investments in solar power given improving solar technologies and decreasing costs, and have exceeded our own expectations by doubling our portfolio, investing in attractive projects across the globe”, said Alex Urquhart, president and CEO of GE Energy Financial Services.

And GE’s huge investment plans are not restricted to solar power. In November, the company announced it would build Mongolia’s first ever wind farm.

However, a history of civil, criminal and ethical misdemeanours, on top of a questionable human rights record, mean the company’s continued good work in the clean energy sector is likely to be overshadowed by scepticism.

Yet, there is no doubting GE’s commitment to renewable energy—its solar investment of $5 billion is nearly 5% of the conglomerate’s total revenue. Greenwash it is not.

As SVM fund manager Hugh Cuthbert told Blue & Green Tomorrow last week, change is necessary, and undoubtedly welcome.

Cuthbert’s fund, the SVM All Europe SRI Fund, invests in most industries, but only in companies that are actively seeking sustainability. The multinational corporations, he said, despite not possessing the most ethical of histories, are the ones with the greatest power to wield.

And they’re the ones that can effect change in the global economy.

Kevin Walsh, managing director and leader of power and renewable energy at GE Energy Financial Services, said that the company were always looking for more opportunities in the solar industry.

We continue to seek to invest in the best solar power projects”, he said, “with solid partners, power contracts and proven technology.”

Whilst global corporations really can make a huge impact, individuals also play a vital role. Choosing to invest your money in an ethical, sustainable or responsible fund is an excellent way to secure a positive future for you and your children.

Start by asking your IFA about sustainable investment. If you don’t have one, simply fill in our short online form, and we’ll connect you.

Related links:

GE aims to right wrongs with Mongolian wind farm project

Picture source: Mark Florence