GE have announced the brand names for three new companies it intends to launch, including GE Vernova that will deal with GE’s energy generation. This new launch is part of a planned separation into three global investment-grade public companies.
The two others will be GE HealthCare and GE Aerospace, but the one we’re interested in most is GE Vernova, which will take charge of GE’s current portfolio of energy businesses that include GE Renewable Energy, GE Power, GE Digital, and GE Energy Financial Services.
All the new proposed names are an effort to help re-brand GE and give those specific arms of the company more visibility. The GE Energy portfolio that alongside its customers, provides one-third of the world’s electricity, will be known as GE Vernova, which is an interesting choice.
What Does GE Vernova Mean?
At first, the name sounds cool, but doesn’t give us an immediate idea of what it means. Vernova is meaningless until it’s broken down into the two words that make up the name. “Ver” is derived from “Verde” and “Verdant” which means Green, and “Nova” which comes from the Latin “Novus” which means New. Basically, GE Energy will become the “New Green”.
One thing GE avoided with their new name GE Vernova is the trend of labelling everything ‘green’. Some would say they are ashamed to announce that they want to be “Green”, but want to take advantage of the move towards green and renewable energy.
Is GE Vernova Really Green?
How close can GE get to actually being green or sustainable in their home country or even within their portfolio? According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 38% of US energy is produced by natural gas, 22% by from coal, 20% comes from renewables, 19% nuclear and 5% of their energy is created by combustion of petroleum. GE and their partners produce a third of this energy and unless they make up 100% of the renewables plus 100% of the nuclear energy (which isn’t strictly renewable anyway), they have a lot of work to do.
With so much of a percentage coming from dirty energy sources, can GE come out and call the company GE Green Energy right off the bat? What they have created is an association with green technology and green energy even subconsciously with the name and new logo without actually being green. Yet.
Evolution Of Energy Supply
This new company GE Vernova is actually playing a very smart role in what we hope will be the evolution of energy supply worldwide into almost exclusive green, renewable energy. GE could not have created GE Green Energy while having power generation equipment that uses fossil fuels as the major part of their portfolio.
Certainly their new website has a huge picture of the earth from space and a promotional video that makes use of their new green brand colour and places clean energy generation at the forefront of what they do. The voice over declares GE Vernova are “helping generate and move the energy that will change the world”, so yeah, they have dirty energy (and will continue to for the foreseeable future?) in their portfolio but are on a path of change? The burning question is how quickly will that change come?
Transition To Green Energy
Transition to green energy can’t be overnight, but if they had changed the name to GE Green Energy, it would have needed a huge and up-front commitment to transforming their company into a green one. They could start with their financial arm, GE Energy Financial Services, as we’ve reported in the past, investment in renewable energy has been far below what it should be. Only in the year 2021 did banks finance renewables more than fossil fuels for the first time in history.
Right now, GE’s fossil fuel customers who are used to dealing with GE Energy or GE Power could get their noses out of joint if they were green shamed. Suddenly, the purchase of GE fossil fuel products would look pretty crummy. Those customers might even be tempted by Siemens or Mitsubishi who wouldn’t seem embarrassed by their fossil fuel product portfolio in comparison.
And don’t forget, the plans to actually get GE Vernova off the ground “are subject to the outcome of legally mandated consultation in some parts of the world”, as mentioned in their marketing material. We don’t think much is going to change though. A lot of resources have gone into creating this brand, so we suspect only minor changes will be required if any.
Becoming GE Vernova could have provided a great opportunity for a much needed kick up the backside to fossil fuel producers, sweetened by their GE Energy Financial Services. Instead, we think the choice of the name GE Vernova and the colours associated with it is a clever way to not directly signal an intent to go green so they don’t cause alarm to current suppliers and customers while still getting recognition from people outside the industry.
Why not just call GE Vernova GE Green Energy, be proud of it and fully commit to change?