GE Ordering Tens Of Thousands Electric Vehicles

The nascent electric car industry may be getting a big boost from one of its major players. General Electric will order “tens of thousands” of electric vehicles in about a week, chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said.

Immelt might even help one of GE’s major investments in the field. The electricity powerhouse is a major stockholder in automotive battery developer A123 Systems.

Last month, A123 opened a sprawling 291,000-square-foot factory in Livonia, Mich. In addition to funding from GE, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a $249 million grant under the auspices of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

With headquarters in suburban Boston and with much of its original lithium-ion technology research coming from MIT, the company has also received financial assistance from the state of Michgan.

The lithium-ion battery maker has contracts with Navistar and Fisker to provide advanced lithium-ion  batteries for their electric vehicles. An earlier partnership with Chrysler was dropped. In its most recent quarterly financial report, A123 reported a $34.2 million loss.

GE has been a big backer of renewable energy, and Immelt used the London speech to urge more private spending on renewable energy. “Now is exactly the time, because it’s less popular, where we have to invest more,” he said. “We have to do it more courageously. And we’re going to have to go forward for a while without government at our backs.”

President Obama has been an ardent supporter, too, of renewable energy. When A123 dedicated the Livonia plant, Obama called A123 executives and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to congratulate them on the plant opening.

General Electric (NYSE: GE) Plans Wind Farm for Lake Erie

General Electric (NYSE: GE), in partnership with the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), is to develop the first freshwater offshore wind farm in the United States.

The announcement was made at the American Wind Energy Association’s annual wind power conference held in Dallas, Texas in May 2010.

The proposed wind farm is a result of a four year campaign, undertaken by The Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, to get a wind farm established.

Ohio’s Governor, Ted Strickland, praising the announcement said, “Ohio’s greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie, and this partnership marks a significant step forward. In Ohio we have all the right assets to make offshore wind energy successful, including an innovative workforce and the manufacturing strengths that would allow us to build all the component parts for wind turbines.”

The wind farm will be a 20-megawatt one. GE will provide 5 wind turbines and maintenance.

The wind turbines will be 300 feet tall with three 176-foot long blades. A huge ring of magnets runs each turbine. Maintenance is reduced due to fewer moving parts.