Jeff Immelt


  1. Meanwhile, in other news. . .

    India has experienced massive power outtages for two days in a row, and it’s anyone’s guess how many more days they will have these blackouts. Yesterday, 300 MILLION people were without power in India. Today, that number doubled to 600 MILLION people without power. According to news reports, even when they aren’t in total blackout, most people only have limited access to power.

    Why do I bring this up? As a world, we need to turn our focus, to embrace what I call “The Great Enterprise”. What is “The Great Enterprise”? It’s getting the whole world engaged in the task for raising the worlds poorest 3 Billion people out of dire poverty, to ensure they have jobs, access to power, clean water, safe food, clothing, and adequate shelter, and that developed nations replace aging infrastructure so that we don’t “lose ground”.

    How can such an undertaking be paid for? By the fact that when we have accomplished this, we will have added 3 billion people to the world’s economy that currently, basically, have a net contribution of zero to that worldwide economy.

    But, The Great Enterprise can only be accomplished with the help of Nuclear Power. Gas, oil, coal, possibly even solar and wind, will all play a role, but if anyone thinks gas can remain “permanently cheap” while we try to develop the poorest nations, I’ve got a bridge to sell you on prime real-estate in New York City.

    1. It sounds like a big factor in these Indian blackouts are a lack of actual fuel on-site at many fossil fuel-burning facilities. This type of issue is never an issue for nuclear power plants that are able to refuel only once every 18-24 months (with future SMRs designed to operate with 3 year or longer operating cycles).

      I doubt many, if any, Indians would agree with Jeff Immelt that nuclear would be hard to justify (other than the activists who were paid to protest against the startup of the Kudankulam plant, although I almost seem to remember that those might have been foreign protestors brought in).

      1. @ Joel,

        Indeed the protests were financed from outside the country. These ‘foreign’ protesters were shown the way to jail.


  2. Hey Rod, this is slightly off-topic, but I have a B&W mPower question. I was looking at the B&W website, and noticed that one of the facilities they are using as part of their nuclear “ecosystem” is a facility at Mount Vernon, Indiana.

    My dad is a welding engineer, and a licensed Professional Engineer, and actually worked at that facility back in the early ’90s – but back then, instead of being used for nuclear component manufacturing, it was used as part of a B&W NASA contract to build an “Advanced Solid Rocket Motor” (or ASRM).

    One of the main accomplishments my dad made at that plant was a large machine to do high-precision rounding/shaping of the rocket motor casing, I believe (it had to be very close to perfectly round).

    It occurs to me that that machine might have uses in creating some of the large components of a nuclear reactor, containment vessel, steam generator, etc. Any chance you could make inquiries at B&W to see if that machine is still in use at that facility, or if it’s in use at any B&W facility anywhere?

  3. I think it’s due to pump GE’s green hypocrisy here. Before Fukushima, commercials and media figures were falling all over themselves over Global Warming and technologies NOT to use to avoid it — and that meant GAS and oil too because they’re FOSSIL FUELS, right? You just couldn’t get enough local cable PSAs warning about fossil fuels and Global Warming (where art the warnings and fossil fuel mentions now??). But now that Fukushima has thrashed the prime anti-nuclear nightmare hype that just a single meltdown spells Doomsday and mega-death, many nations not hung up on anti-war/anti-nuclear philosophies are having second thoughts about living with such a “catastrophic” rare risk in exchange for reliable energy and low pollution and zero greenhouse gases. Canadian Energy Issues cites that Ontario is very content with nuclear and wouldn’t fully switch to gas or wind for beans, and it’s nuclear examples as that and India that has to be pushed in the face of GE’s (and Siemens) gas turbines and windmills since they’ve sour grapes abandoning nuclear because Japanese, Korean and Chinese reactor builders could likely undercut them out of the world market.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  4. I suspect that oil and gas companies are uninterested in nuclear because the uranium market would have to be several orders of magnitude larger than it is today to involve the sums of money the oil and gas companies throw around. As you have mentioned in the past and as I wrote on the NPYP blog the other day( a million BTU worth of natural uranium costs only about 20 cents, compared to 14 dollars for a million BTU of oil and 11 dollars for a million BTU of gas (European current price).

    It’s hard to become filthy rich on uranium. It’s even hard to become marginally rich. Cameco supplies 16% of the world uranium and its revenue is but six tenths of a percentage of ExxonMobils revenue!

    Nuclear would at best be as big (small) a part of oil and gas company as it is of GE today, unless they would get into the business of running power plants. ExxonMobils profit is larger than the combined revenues of Areva, Rosatom, Kepco and Cameco. Even a small oil player like Norweigan Statoil is a much much larger company than Areva or Rosatom.

    1. @ Johan

      Albert Bartlett is famous for this quote : The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

      If you apply all of the thermal power that these small and insignificant supplies of Uranium yield compared to their equivalent oil, gas and coal you coud derive a productivity factor that woud favor nuclear power big time.

      Revenues and profits are one dimension of the equation. I say that the smart money will find its way into the atom sooner than later.

    2. Hi, Johan, great entry, I just added a complement with a comment that refers this IEA document

      In addition to what you already said, the figure 1.10 and 1.16 in that document show how from 2001 to 2010 investment in renewable absolutely dwarfed the one for nuclear.

      The 1300bn$ figure (against less than 140bn$ for nuclear) is to remember the next time some renewable guys claims the reason why it’s not very successful yet is because the investment is too weak really.

  5. Jeff Immelt is just another executive who is jumping on the shale gas hype bandwagon. GE’s nuclear division is treated as a stepchild within the company. Imagine you work for GE-Hitachi Nuclear and your CEO says something like this !

    Anyway, the shale gas boom is fizzling out, if Wolf Richter (Testosterone Pit blog) is to be believed. His analysis is well worth reading:

  6. camiel wrote:
    Jeff Immelt is just another executive who is jumping on the shale gas hype bandwagon.

    No surprise. The goal is to make the profit targets for the next quarter and the year. Gas turbines can be sited and sold quickly. So sell as many as possible while the price of natural gas is low. Soon enough when these gas turbines gobble up all the cheap gas, utility executives will shut off spending for more gas turbines. But GE will have the money from selling the turbines.

    At that point nuclear will look more attractive to power utilities, and Mr. Immelt will likely have nice things to say about GE’s reactor business.

  7. What gets to me is the plague of crickets from environment groups like Greenpeace and FOE and Natural Defense Fund from not getting on GE’s case for using angelic Natural Gas and adding to the greenhouse effect and Co2. It’s AMAZING how silent they (and the media) are about such! There are NYC teachers that give kids a hard time for correcting — er, telling them that gas is a fossil fuel!! Could the great hush-up be because they philosophically hate the logical and proven alternative far more than they love the environment??

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  8. I suggest one thing. Let’s have all the people who had their home burnt down in the Sandy aftermath send the bill to Immelt and see how he react.

    Because the gas utilities had no way to shut down the gas network without cutting it for several dozen thousands people globally, they’ve just left everything simply burn down :
    “natural gas fires that have burned for days […] are about to be snuffed”
    “The system will be flushed and the gas flow will be completely cut off, affecting about 28,000 customers”

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