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EGEB: General Electric says goodbye to new coal

  • GE, one of the world’s largest makers of coal-fired power plants, will stop expanding the fossil fuel.
  • Airbus reveals three emissions-free aircraft concepts that run on hydrogen.
  • The world’s richest 1% cause double the emissions of the poorest 50%, according to Oxfam.
  • Arcadia Power is committed to making clean energy work for the planet and your bank account — all without changing your utility company. Sign up to receive your $20 Amazon Gift Card.

GE stops coal

General Electric Co (GE.N), one of the world’s largest makers of coal-fired power plants, said today it will stop making new coal-fired power plants. The US industrial conglomerate will shift its focus to green energy. GE said the exit from the coal business could include divestitures, site closures, and layoffs.

CNN Business points out that this decision is a huge pivot for the company:

The move marks a dramatic reversal for GE. Just five years ago, the company doubled down on coal by acquiring Alstom’s power business, which makes coal-fueled turbines.

That $9.5 billion deal, GE’s biggest-ever industrial purchase, proved to be a disaster because coal has been crushed by the rise of natural gas and a shift toward solar, wind and renewable energy. Since then, GE has laid off thousands of power workers, slashed its dividend to a penny, fired two CEOs, and sharply written down the value of its power business.

However, GE will continue to service existing coal power plants, and it’s still in the natural gas business.

GE Power CEO Russell Stokes said:

With the continued transformation of GE, we are focused on power generation businesses that have attractive economics and a growth trajectory.

Net zero aircraft

Airbus has today revealed three concepts for the world’s first emissions-free commercial aircraft that could enter service by 2035. Each concept explores different technology pathways and aerodynamic configurations to achieve net zero — and all use hydrogen.

The three concepts are all codenamed “ZEROe.” The three concepts are:

Upper left in photo: A turbofan design (120-200 passengers) with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, through combustion. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead. 

Bottom center in photo: A turboprop design (up to 100 passengers) using a turboprop engine instead of a turbofan and also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines, which would be capable of traveling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a perfect option for short-haul trips.

Upper right in photo: A “blended-wing body” design (up to 200 passengers) concept in which the wings merge with the main body of the aircraft with a range similar to that of the turbofan concept. The exceptionally wide fuselage opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution, and for cabin layout. 

Airports would require significant hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure to meet the needs of day-to-day operations. Support from governments would be required to meet these ambitious objectives.

Rich are the biggest polluters

The wealthiest 1% of the world’s population is responsible for more than twice as much pollution between 1990 and 2015 as the 3.1 billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity. Those 25 years is when humanity doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Over one-third of the emissions of the richest 1% — people with net income over $109,000 — are linked to Americans, with the next biggest contributions coming from citizens of the Middle East and China. 

This is according to a new report from Oxfam, called “Confronting Carbon Inequality: Putting climate justice at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery.” The report found:

The richest 10% accounted for over half (52%) of the emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015. The richest 1% were responsible for 15% of emissions during this time — more than all the citizens of the EU and more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7%).

During this time, the richest 10% blew one-third of our remaining global 1.5C carbon budget, compared to just 4% for the poorest half of the population. The carbon budget is the amount of carbon dioxide that can be added to the atmosphere without causing global temperatures to rise above 1.5C — the goal set by governments in the Paris Agreement to avoid the very worst impacts of uncontrolled climate change.

Tim Gore, head of climate policy at Oxfam and author of the report, said:

The overconsumption of a wealthy minority is fueling the climate crisis, yet it is poor communities and young people who are paying the price. Such extreme carbon inequality is a direct consequence of our governments’ decades-long pursuit of grossly unequal and carbon intensive economic growth.

The report estimates that the per capita emissions of the richest 10% will need to be around 10 times lower by 2030 to keep the world on track for just 1.5C of warming. This is equivalent to cutting global annual emissions by a third.

Photo: Airbus

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.