Shale Gas Can Ignite Manufacturing, Lead to Energy Independence


“All in.”
That’s how a lot of people talk about how we should approach our energy challenges. But what does it mean?
Part of it means making the most of any country’s natural resources to spur economic growth. Today, that means expanding the production of unconventional resources – fuels like shale gas.
Today we’re announcing that GE is opening a new Global Research Center in Oklahoma City specifically focused on developing state-of-the-art technologies for the oil and gas sector. It’s exciting; the availability of shale in the United States and around the world has to be one of the biggest game-changers I’ve seen in my career. The question is can we tap it? Can we develop the technologies to extract it sustainably? If we do, we’ll have cheaper energy. We will power a manufacturing renewal. We will enable trains, trucks and cars to run cleaner and at lower cost. The impact is so profound that it could even lead to energy independence in North America. That’s why every citizen should be very interested how we develop these resources. And it is incumbent on innovators and businesses to develop technologies that ensure reliable, safe and efficient extraction and use of unconventional oil and gas. We’ll do our part!
But “all in” doesn’t mean “either/or.” Too often that’s premise of the energy debate. And it’s counter-productive. Instead, we should be looking for ways to use different energy sources in concert. That’s a big challenge. But it’s also the key to achieving what both customers and society demand: efficiency, resiliency, and productivity.
Investing in and understanding analytics – turning big data into big insight – is a great example. Think of a state like Oklahoma that has both ample wind power and oil and gas resources. If we can plug a wind turbine into the Industrial Internet – the open, global ecosystem of machines that connect, communicate and cooperate with each other -- we can maximize the power output of a wind farm and make it more predictable and reliable.
Now, add another layer of technology. By developing smart sensors and software, we can build flexibility into power plants and help utilities incorporate renewables in their grids. When the wind starts blowing, a utility can blend renewable power with electricity from a natural gas-fired flexible plant, reducing its output, saving money and cutting emissions.
Demand for energy is only increasing. 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.
If we listen to one another, we can find common ground. If we engage, we can innovate. And if we show commitment and leadership, we can overcome obstacles and drive change. Let’s be “all in.”
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