GE ploughs $2bn into China clean tech push

General Electric (GE) will invest more than $2bn (£1.2bn) in China through to 2012 to expand its research and development and customer support capabilities, primarily in the field of low-carbon technologies, the company’s chief executive said yesterday.

GE will spend $500m on R&D, and more than $1.5bn on technology and financial services joint ventures, chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement during a visit to Beijing.

“The new joint ventures are in line with our strategy to build partnerships in China to support our business here and globally,” he told Reuters.

The company said it has signed four new joint venture agreements – two with the state-owned energy grid operators and two with state-owned rail firms.

The two grid contracts will see GE manufacture and market grid monitoring and diagnostic products in a venture with Wuhan NARI Co, and buy a controlling stake in Shanghai-based green power distribution equipment maker Shanghai Tianling Switchgear.

In rail, GE plans an agreement with Chengdu Locomotive and Rolling Stock Works, a company owned by China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation, to form a 50-50 venture.

The firm is also planning another 50-50 joint venture with the Beijing National Railway Research & Design Institute of Signal & Communication, to supply signalling systems.

In addition, the company plans to spend $500m on customer innovation centres in six cities, the first three of which are planned for Chengdu, Shenyang and Xi’an.

The investments will add 1,000 new jobs in the next two years, GE said.

Immelt yesterday appointed vice chairman John Rice to accelerate a push to bolster exports and target countries such as China that are building infrastructure to support economic growth.

China is an increasingly important market for firms developing clean energy products and services as it continues to provide generous subsidies even as emissions legislation appears to have stalled in the US.

GE said earlier this year that it is investing $10bn during the next five years in clean-energy goods and services.

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