In Oklahoma this week GE announced it is opening a new research center where it says it will invest a total of $110 million over the next decade and create 125 high-tech engineering jobs over the next two years.
The challenge, according to GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, is how to tap the availability of shale gas in the United States, something he said Wednesday “has to be one of the biggest game-changers I’ve seen in my career.”
Developing the technology that would allow the U.S. to extract shale gas in a sustainable way would result in cheaper energy, allow for cleaner and less expensive transportation and even fuel a manufacturing revival. “The impact is so profound that it could even lead to energy independence in North America,” he said.
“Demand for energy is only increasing,” Immelt says. “We need all of our natural resources, including and especially unconventionals. And we need our creative resources, too. Intelligent and integrated will mean reliable and resilient.”
While there are seven GE research centers around the world, the new Oklahoma innovation center will be the first dedicated to solely one industry. This will allow developers to accelerate their research, says Eric Gebhardt, vice president of engineering at GE Oil & Gas. “We want applied R&D,” he was quoted as saying in a post for GE Reports. “We want to come up with technology that we can put out in the field.”
The center will bring together industry experts, says Jeremy Van Dam, a senior mechanical engineer at the GE Global Research center in New York. It will connect innovative ideas with product expertise from other partners as well as their customers. “With this intersection of know-how, GE will be able to evaluate, build, and prove more ideas faster than either of the other groups could do on their own,” he says.