“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”
– Jacques Cousteau
Water is precious. It is essential to sustaining life—from healthcare and manufacturing to food and energy production. Globally, there is increased recognition that we need to take new measures to protect our freshwater supplies and make the most of the water already being used in the world.
GE addresses global water challenges through many avenues. In particular, GE’s Water & Process Technologies business partners with customers to provide water and wastewater treatment and process-system solutions. GE also focuses on water use in our operations through our Ecomagination goals and through heightened attention to our most water-intensive facilities.
Water is a key priority at GE:
- GE has long believed that it is important to manage our own water footprint, and in 2015 we announced a new goal: 20% reduction in freshwater usage by 2020 from a 2011 baseline.
- The GE Power facility in Schenectady, NY, is continuously striving to reduce water use, GHG emissions, and energy consumption. For example, a well-designed, highly efficient river pump—in an opportunity identified during a Kaizen event—has been successfully operating at the Schenectady site for the past two years, pulling water from the Mohawk River for non-contact process cooling, chiller condenser cooling, testing, and boiler make-up water treatment. The new pump can better align water supply with the site’s demands. Additional efficiency-improvement efforts at the site included upgrades to the autoclave complex, the installation of a new condensate tank and insulated piping in the water treatment and boiler make-up systems, an industrial steam silencer with a new programmable steam-control valve to reduce wasted steam, and the installation of efficient LED high-bay fixtures. These projects have resulted in substantial annual cost and environmental benefits from reduced natural gas use, GHG emissions, and electricity consumption, including an impressive savings of more than 1.25 billion gallons of water.
- GE’s Water & Process Technologies business develops technologies to address the world’s most complex challenges related to water availability, quality and productivity, the environment, and energy.
- We’re investing in R&D to make our technologies more robust while reducing the amount of energy required to operate them. GE’s Ecoassessment Center of Excellence has developed a proprietary, custom water-energy analysis tool that explores region-specific trade-offs between energy and water impacts.
- We’re driving advancement in policy through thought leadership, such as how to Close the Gap Between Treating Wastewater and Reusing It, and recently we partnered with the World Resources Institute on a study of the business risks and opportunities associated with the interdependency between energy and water, titled “The Water-Energy Nexus.”
- We have modeled those operations located in water-stressed and water-scarce areas on a periodic basis. Based on these analyses, we have conducted a variety of water-reduction projects in those regions to reduce water consumption by recycling wastewater.
- One example is our GE Global Research facility in Bangalore, India, which has reduced water use by employing GE water treatment technologies to achieve that goal. Learn more here on how we manage water in Bangalore.
The communities, businesses and industries that are leading the world in water reuse are paving the way through education, smarter policy, and government, business and public collaboration. By moving water reuse to the forefront of the fight against water scarcity, we can create not only a sustainable world, but also a resilient one.