General Electric Co.’s (GE) Energy Financial Services unit plans to invest more than $1 billion a year on renewable-power projects.
That will build upon the $10 billion that GE has already invested in 17 gigawatts of mostly wind and solar plants since forming the unit in 2006, said EFS Chief Executive Officer David Nason. Those plants help avert 26 million tons of greenhouse-gas emissions annually, the equivalent of 5.6 million cars.
Renewable power is EFS’s fastest-growing energy market, and investing in power plants is also a way to spur sales of equipment from Stamford, Connecticut-based GE, Nason said.
“We see renewable energy providing very significant returns going forward,” Nason said today in an interview in New York. “We have a robust pipeline in the U.S. for the next couple of years.” He wouldn’t say what kind of returns the investments typically generate.
GE also is considering buying solar and wind power projects in countries including Japan, Ireland and Chile, and prefers to invest in projects that use GE equipment such as wind turbines and inverters.
GE owns a stake in the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar farm that First Solar Corp. is building in Southern California at a cost of more than $2 billion. The plant is expected to be complete next year and more than 375 megawatts of panels are already producing power.
GE also bought 50 megawatts of projects in Ontario from First Solar last year and is in talks to buy more, said Kevin Walsh, the company’s head of power and renewable energy.
“There is a very active dialog with First Solar,” he said.
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