GE commits to net zero, GEH creates SMR jobs

16 July 2021

General Electric (GE) has announced a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, following a shareholder vote on an As You Sow resolution on 4 May. This target not only encompasses GE's operations but also includes its 'Scope 3' emissions from customers' use of the products it sells, including power generation equipment, which account for a significant portion of the company’s emissions. Meanwhile GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has announced the creation of 80 highly skilled jobs in Ontario to support the deployment of BWRX-300 small modular reactors in Canada and around the world.

(Image: Twitter)

As You Sow works to address the challenges and risks of climate change by working with shareholders and energy companies to facilitate a transition to business models that comply with the Paris Agreement. GE's net-zero announcement marks an important shift in its business plans as a major manufacturer of fossil fuel power generation technologies, including thermal power plants and jet engines. GE announced in late 2020 that it will exit the new-build coal power market.

Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, said: "GE's leadership demonstrates that industries involved with the burning of fossil fuels have the capability to evolve their business strategy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's global goal for avoiding catastrophic climate change. GE shareholders look forward to seeing further details on the company’s transition plan and the time frames for action."

This announcement follows a 98% vote on a resolution filed on behalf of Amalgamated Bank and presented by shareholder representative As You Sow on GE's plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its business and product lines by the middle of this century. The resolution, which was supported by GE's board, was also flagged as a key proposal by the Climate Action 100+ investor initiative, which represents more than 500 investors with more than USD54 trillion in assets.

SMR jobs in Ontario

GEH has announced the creation of 80 highly skilled jobs in Ontario to support the deployment of BWRX-300 SMRs in Canada and beyond. The professional technical jobs will be based at GEH’s Canada SMR headquarters in Markham, Ontario and are primarily in engineering, project management, sourcing and quality.

"By investing in Ontario’s labour force, GE is proud to support Canada in fulfilling its vision of being a global leader in SMR technology," said Heather Chalmers, president & CEO of GE Canada. "GE has operated in Canada for nearly 130 years and is uniquely positioned to scale a workforce to support Canada’s clean energy vision."

"These skilled, high-paying jobs in Ontario will support the deployment of our innovative, carbon-free SMR technology in Canada and worldwide," said Lisa McBride, Canada SMR country leader for GEH. "This is just the beginning of our projected growth and we look forward to posting more jobs as we continue to build our SMR team."

GEH has also brought nine students from across Canada on board for paid summer internships. The students, representing McMaster University, Mohawk College, Ontario Tech University, Queen’s University, the University of Calgary, the University of Ottawa and the University of Saskatchewan, are working with GEH engineers to support the deployment of small modular reactors.

An independent report by PwC Canada, commissioned by GEH, estimates that the construction and operation of the first BWRX-300 in Ontario is expected to generate about CAD2.3 billion in GDP, CAD1.9 billion in labour income and more than CAD750 million in federal, provincial and municipal tax revenue over its lifespan. The report estimates that each subsequent BWRX-300 deployed in Ontario and other provinces is expected to further generate more than CAD1.1 billion in GDP and more than CAD300 million in tax revenue.

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems. By leveraging the design and licensing basis of GEH's US Nuclear Regulatory Commission-certified ESBWR, utilising the licensed and proven GNF2 fuel design and incorporating proven components and supply chain expertise, GEH says the BWRX-300 can become "the lowest-risk, most cost-competitive and quickest to market" SMR.

Established in 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi to serve the global nuclear industry.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News