GE’s continued liquefied natural gas (LNG gas) project expansion plans run contrary to prevailing market conditions in Asia Pacific and its own net zero emissions by 2050 goals. Given the upcoming spinoff of its power business, GE’s proposed LNG buildout could damage the financial position and reputation of the yet-to-exist “GE Vernova” and other GE offshoots.
Although the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE2050) makes clear that achieving net zero emissions by 2050 leaves an extremely limited and narrowing role for fossil fuels in electricity generation, GE seeks to expand its business in new LNG to power projects planned to operate for decades. These include almost 25 gigawatts (Annex A) of LNG to power projects in Vietnam and Bangladesh. As such, GE would be at risk of failing to meet its already inadequate emissions targets.
GE’s stated singular mission of “addressing the climate crisis” rests in stark contradiction to pursuing and developing projects that are incompatible with global climate goals. Such a disconnect puts the company at risk of being accused of “greenwashing”.
How GE is driving climate change
GE is reportedly involved in almost 25 gigawatts (Annex A) of LNG to power projects in Vietnam and Bangladesh, which will likely operate to 2050 and beyond.
In the Chattogram region of Bangladesh alone, gas or LNG to power projects with GE involvement would add approximately 430 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) to the atmosphere throughout the plants’ operational lives.
This is equivalent to almost double the annual national emissions of Bangladesh (Annex B).
Those who are currently investing in fossil fuels in Bangladesh – I would like to urge them not to invest in fossil fuels, but instead invest your money in renewable energy.
যারা এই মুহূর্তে বাংলাদেশে জীবাস্ম জ্বালানিতে বিনোয়োগ করছে – তাদেরকে বলতে চাই যে আপনারা ওই বিনিয়োগ এর টাকাটি জীবাস্ম জ্বালানিতে বিনিয়োগ না করে, নবায়নযোগ্য জ্বালানিতে বিনিয়োগ করুন।
These are members of communities who would be affected by proposed projects with GE involvement in Bangladesh. Credit: Market Forces
Electric Bangladesh: Fossil Free Futures
Market Forces worked with Bangladeshi artists to call on GE to stop pushing new fossil fuel projects in Bangladesh. The Electric Bangladesh: Fossil Free Futures art exhibition calls for a safe and secure future, one where lives and livelihoods are not disrupted, and where Bangladeshis have electricity produced from renewable energy like wind power that GE Vernova has the capacity to deliver.
GE is intending to spin off its power business over the next two years, with a new entity called “GE Vernova” housing GE’s thermal, nuclear and renewable power divisions. This new entity is working hard to try and emphasise its green credentials (its name comes from the Latin for new green). We anticipate the company will also take on GE’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, including its significant Scope 3 emissions from use of sold products.
GE risks stranded assets
A core part of GE’s power business is the revenue generated from services, in which GE provides long-term operating and maintenance contracts for the gas turbines it sells to its customers. GE’s reliance on this component of the power business has grown in recent years, with service revenue accounting for 70% of power revenue in 2021, up from 56% in 2017.
With gas-fired power rapidly facing out-competition by renewables, not least in emerging Asia, GE’s service business could struggle to maintain profitability over the long-term. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has estimated that “as long as unaffordable LNG prices and procurement challenges persist, US$96.7 billion dollars of proposed LNG-related infrastructure projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the Philippines will face a heightened risk of underutilization or cancellation.” This means a significant risk not only that GE-sponsored projects will destroy value, but that Vernova’s service-focused business model could come under pressure.
GE undercutting renewable business
GE is one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world, ranking fifth globally for additional commissioned wind capacity in 2021 and first in 2020. In NZE2050, the IEA projects the world would require an enormous 7,800 TWh of wind electricity generation by 2030, a five-fold increase on 2020 levels. GE is well-positioned to help meet this demand given its position in and knowledge of the global wind turbine manufacturing sector.
Nevertheless, GE is undermining the green credentials of its Vernova spinoff through its ongoing involvement in expansionary LNG and fossil gas projects. Moreover, GE is shooting itself in the foot by undermining the potential of renewables in official white papers, underplaying wind and solar power’s potential for decarbonisation to investors and customers and claiming fossil gas is needed for a secure energy future. Unless the company changes tack, GE could potentially lose out on securing a leading position as a renewables producer as the world transitions to net zero.
Hydrogen retrofitting is costly and inefficient
GE has been signalling to its customers that the stranded asset risk of its gas turbines can be addressed by simply retrofitting them to be powered by hydrogen.
There are several pitfalls in GE’s claims and ambition. A report on hydrogen’s future in the energy system by independent US energy policy think-tank, Energy Innovation Policy & Technology LLC found that using hydrogen for power generation is uneconomical, unproven, risky, and inefficient.
GE must address these risks by:
- not building any new LNG to power projects, given the unacceptable financial, environmental and social risks attached to such projects, and,
- announcing its exit from proposed LNG projects in Bangladesh and Vietnam
Investors must pay keen attention to hints of greenwashing to ensure the company’s activities do not undermine investors’ own climate commitments
Annex A: List of 25 GW LNG projects with GE involvement in Bangladesh and Vietnam
|wdt_ID||Project name||Country||Size||Unit||Type of LNG asset||Sources|
|1||Maheshkhali LNG Power Plant||Bangladesh||3,600||MW||LNG Power Plant|
|2||Matarbari Summit LNG Power Plant||Bangladesh||2,400||MW||LNG Power Plant|
|3||Meghnaghat (Unique)||Bangladesh||584||MW||Gas/ LNG Power Plant|
|4||Mirsharai 660MW power project||Bangladesh||660||MW||Gas/ LNG Power Plant|
|5||Bac Lieu (I, II, II + IV)||Vietnam||3,200||MW||LNG Power Plant|
|6||Chan May (Phases 1 and 2)||Vietnam||4,000||MW||LNG Power Plant||
https://www.ijglobal.com/articles/148935/us-vietnam-jv-to-invest-in-vietnam-lng (subscription source)
|7||LNG Cai Mep Ha||Vietnam||6,000||MW||LNG Power Plant|
|8||LNG Long Son I||Vietnam||1,200||MW||LNG Power Plant|
|9||Long An I and II||Vietnam||3,000||MW||LNG Power Plant||
‘PDP8 details mega projects’, Project Finance International (subscription source)
Annex B: Emission calculations
The proposed LNG projects are assumed to have a 50% average capacity factor across a 30-year economic lifetime. Emissions estimates are based on median lifecycle emissions from combined cycle gas power of 490 gCO2eq/kWh, according to IPCC 2014, p1335, citing Schlömer S., T. Bruckner, L. Fulton, E. Hertwich, A. McKinnon, D. Perczyk, J. Roy, R. Schaeffer, R. Sims, P. Smith, and R. Wiser. (2014). Annex III: Technology-specific cost and performance parameters. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
GE projects in Chattagram, Bangladesh adding up to 6660MW X Hours in the year X 30 years assumed expected lifetime operation X 50% capacity factor X IPCC 2014 combined cycle gas power emission intensity of 490 gCO2eq/kWh = 429 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2-e) (approx.)
Bangladesh’s 2019 annual emissions was 237.7 MtCO2-e
This webpage is intended to convey factual information about GE.
Information comes from the companies’ available annual reports and websites, Refinitiv Eikon, Bloomberg and various news reports.
Occasionally where information is incomplete, assumptions must be made about data and these were made in a consistent manner and in good faith. Whilst we have endeavoured to gather and include all relevant deals, we cannot guarantee the completeness of the information presented.