Product, Service & Design Innovation
GE's Ecomagination Initiative Targets GHG Emissions from Canada’s Oil Sands

General Electric (GE) has announced the launch of an up to $1 million ecomagination open innovation challenge to help accelerate technology development in Canada’s oil sands.

The Innovation Challenge will target two of the biggest opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the oil sands: new uses for waste heat and improved efficiency of steam generation.

GE is calling for the best global minds, within and outside the industry, to help develop solutions that can be scaled and commercialized within the industry. The Challenge is two-part, with submissions due September 30, 2014 and March 15, 2015 respectively. Winners of the Challenge can potentially share up to CAD$1 million in seed funding to further develop and commercialize the proposed solutions and will be eligible to become a supplier or contractor to GE on future projects.

GE points to the fact that Canada’s oil sands are the third-largest oil reserves in the world, next to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and represent a significant source of secure energy for global markets. Oil sands production is expected to grow substantially over the next 20 years, driving increased efforts for collaboration to accelerate the development of technology that will reduce GHG emissions.

Strategic advisors for the GHG ecomagination Innovation Challenge include Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) and Alberta Innovates — Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES).

Entries are now being accepted; the winners of the first part of the Challenge will be announced in January 2015.

Since its 2005 launch, ecomagination — the company’s commitment to technology solutions that save money and reduce environmental impact for its customers and GE’s own operations — has generated more than $160 billion in revenue. GE’s own operations have seen a 32 percent reduction in GHG emissions since 2004 and a 45 percent reduction in freshwater use since 2006, realizing $300 million in savings. In March, GE renewed the initiative.

This is the sixth ecomagination challenge; previous challenges spanned the U.S., China, Australia and New Zealand, and the Middle East. GE has a successful history with open innovation challenges; most recently launching an innovation challenge to increase the energy efficiency of seawater desalination, and a challenge to improve electrical distribution with innovative designs for an ergonomic rotary handle accessory for its molded case circuit breaker.

Ecomagination, along with GE’s other sustainability programs, has generated some $25 billion in revenue, according to the company’s 2012 “Global Impact” update.

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