General Electric

Background

General Electric is the huge American products and services company that is involved in businesses ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, water processing and security technology to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, media content and advanced materials.

Its energy arm is called GE Energy (http://www.gepower.com).

GE Energy’s nuclear business

Like most other companies involved in nuclear power, GE Energy is attempting to rebrand nuclear as a green technology. Its website says: “At GE, we’re dedicated to meeting the world’s energy requirements with solutions that help protect and preserve our environment. That’s why we’re committed to helping nuclear power plants operate safely and with greater efficiency and output.”

In addition to the US, GE Energy has a major presence in Canada, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Norway.

In 2007, it is hosting two international conferences called ‘Advancing the Nuclear Renaissance’.

Nukes Vital for Climate and Security of Supply

General Electric has been pushing the case for nuclear in the UK for several years.

In September 2004, Andrew White, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric’s global nuclear unit, said: “It’s vital for the UK to support nuclear energy. I don’t see a good energy policy in the UK to meet Kyoto and secure supplies”.

In 2006, GE Infrastructure, one of GE’s six divisions, set out the company’s view on the future of the UK’s nuclear energy industry, in a submission to the Department for Trade and Industry’s consultation ‘Our Energy Challenge – Securing clean affordable energy for the long-term’, which followed the 2003 Energy White Paper. The document stated that GE wants to see “nuclear… back on the permitting agenda with standardized approval procedures for new build that ensures fast and economic deployment, to ensure security of supply while meeting environmental safety objectives.”

It continued: “GE believes that nuclear energy is and will remain an essential component of the global energy mix… Nuclear energy helps to ensure security of supply and meeting greenhouse gas reduction objectives… GE welcomes the approach taken by the UK Government to examine the possibility to build new nuclear units… GE believes that the Government should put in place the following policy elements to ensure that:

  • The public is informed about the need for new builds and nuclear waste management,
  • The licensing process for new builds is transparent and streamlined in order to reduce the commissioning time and lessen risk for private investors,
  • A sustainable waste management policy is put in place”.

Pro-Nuke Lobbying

According to an article in Sunday Business in January 2006, General Electric has “begun a lobbying campaign for its Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design to be used in the UK’s next generation of nuclear reactors. GE Nuclear chief executive Andy White told The Business he had discussed using GE&’s technology with UK nuclear company British Energy, Eon UK and EdF Energy, the two UK companies seen as the leaders of any potential new build. He also said he had met Prime Minister Tony Blair last year and briefed officials at the Department of Trade and Industry.