General Electric is unveiling a leaner version of its former self, with a focus on core businesses and a plan to strengthen its balance sheet.
The unanimously approved reorganization is the result of a strategic review. Moving forward, GE will focus on power, renewables and aviation. Last year, those areas brought in $35 billion, $9 billion and $27 billion in revenue, respectively. While those domains will remain core to its business, other segments will be spun off as separate GE businesses (such as GE Healthcare) or merged with other companies.
The industrial giant is looking to slash its debt by $25 billion.
Renewables are still an important part of the plan. According to a presentation to investors, 67 percent of GE’s power capacity additions last year came from renewable sources. The company expects the sector to account for 70 percent of annual capacity additions through 2021.
The renewables strategy continues to center on wind. Most 2017 revenue, $7.7 billion, came from onshore, but GE also highlighted the potential for offshore, which brought in $300 million in 2017. In early March, the company unveiled the Haliade-X, a 12-megawatt turbine that could be the most powerful in the world when commercially deployed in 2021.
GE Power equipment currently generates over 30 percent of the world’s electricity, using 1,600 gigawatts of capacity. That includes about 7,000 gas turbines worldwide.
Although GE's capacity growth will increasingly come from renewables, its gas-centric strategy isn’t going away soon. GE believes “gas remains key to a long-term energy mix," even with short-term reductions in demand for gas generation equipment.
That echoes Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest outlook on the energy sector, which claimed gas will remain important through mid-century, even as renewables and batteries remake the energy system. Gas power accounted for $9.2 billion of GE’s revenue in 2017.
Large power equipment providers are facing a tough gas market in the short term. Siemens is reportedly considering selling its gas turbine business. As part of the restructuring, GE itself plans to sell non-core product lines, including its gas-centered distributed power business, which is going to equity investor Advent International for $3.25 billion.
“GE Power will continue to invest in developing the energy technologies of the future and improving the power networks we depend on today,” said President and CEO of GE Power Russell Stokes, regarding the sale of the distributed power business. Both Advent International and GE said the business has growth potential.
GTM Research, though, indicates gas peaking plants will increasingly face competition from energy storage. A decade from now, GTM Research analysis shows that four-hour battery storage will be cheaper than peakers.
In the other areas of its power business, GE power services brought in $13.2 billion in 2017 revenue; grid services brought in $5.4 billion; and other segments, including nuclear, brought in $2.7 billion.
The changes from GE come at the end of a planned $20 billion divestiture goal. In the past year GE has rid itself of the units Distributed Power, Industrial Solutions and Value-Based Care.
This week’s announcement is the most recent in a series of reorganizations for GE, including one just last year.