GE, the US ‘diversified infrastructure, finance and media’ conglomerate has been in the news recently with several announcements that emphasise the company’s intentions to be a player in the low-carbon ICT sector.
• The company has announced a new phase of its $200m ‘ecomagination’ challenge addressing home energy management. GE and its venture capital partners have announced the “Powering Your Home” Challenge, which begins today.
The first phase of ecomagination focused on ideas for building the next-generation power grid. This second phase is aimed at finding and funding new ways to improve the energy efficiency of individual households. The global challenge invites technologists, entrepreneurs and start-ups to share their best ideas and come together to build and improve the eco home of the future.
The judging panel of GE executives, academics and technologists will select five $100,000 Innovation Award winners whose ideas represent pioneering entrepreneurship and innovation. They will be offered the opportunity to develop a commercial relationship with GE through investment and other business support. If you’re interested there’s more information at http://www.ecomagination.com.
• Not that GE doesn’t have its own ideas of markets to be in. Last week it acquired UK smart meter company Remote Energy Monitoring (REM), which I’ve mentioned in previous despatches.
REM’s solutions allow consumers and utilities to better monitor and manage their energy use and come with the added advantage of being field upgradeable so that new capabilities can be added without switching out meters. REM’s metering solutions are approved by UK regulators and the acquisition gives GE a stronger European foothold around smart meters/smart grids.
“Combining Remote Energy Monitoring’s UK smart metering expertise with GE’s worldwide metering, manufacturing and smart grid leadership will expedite the rollout of this important technology, enabling the UK to lead in this area of energy management and efficiency,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president of GE’s Digital Energy business.
• GE has also acquired Lineage Power from The Gores Group. Lineage Power is a provider of high-efficiency power conversion infrastructure technology and services for the telecommunications and data centre industries.
The deal gives GE access to the $20bn year power conversion space, where the demand for reliable, high-quality power is driven by the growth in cloud computing and mobile internet voice, video and data applications.
“According to recent studies, there will be 1.1 billion smartphones sold globally by 2013,” said Dan Heintzelman, GE Energy Services president & CEO. “Every new mobile device plugs into an infrastructure that requires an ever increasing amount of high-quality power. The growth in high-bandwidth mobile internet applications and cloud computing is accelerating that demand. A globally networked planet needs a lot of power to keep spinning. Customers want efficient, reliable means to manage that power.”
OK, so its arguable as to whether any of this is mainstream green ICT, but it is relevant because it’s starting to come up against the ICT domain, particularly the data centre, and new sectors of the market where they are likely to come head-to-head with ICT players, such as in home energy management. GE may well be looking for ICT partners in these markets, but this is a powerful player and it will be in the driving seat for most deals, with increasing in-house expertise of its own.
By the way, congratulations to Remote Energy Monitoring. It’s nice to report some good news on a company based in Tring - the same small town that’s the home to The Green IT Report.