GE's high-profile if clumsily titled ecomagination initiative to promote greener technologies has turned its sights on China.

Not before times, critics might argue, as the country's growing environmental problems threaten not just to jeopardise current economic growth but leave a nasty legacy that later generations will have to clean up.

GE's latest contribution to the greening of China is a Memorandum of Understanding with the country's National Development and Reform Commission to expand cooperation in the development of environmental technologies. In addition, GE will invest up to $50m in eco-related R&D at its Shanghai technology centre over the next five years, and train up to 2,500 Chinese managers and officials.

The MoU covers a broad range of technologies including coal gasification, wind energy and desalination. In the field of transport, GE is promoting a new locomotive designed specifically for the Chinese rail network which can carry huge cargo loads over long distances, and which reduces emissions by 28%. China's Ministry of Rail has already ordered 300 of them. The US giant has also developed a more efficient jet engine which it hopes will appeal to China's fast-expanding regional aircraft market.

GE also sees big potential in China for its Jenbacher gas engines, which can generate electricity from biogas or waste gases from landfills or coal mines. One such engine is already being used at the Xieqiao mine in Huainan, with electricity fed into the regional power grid. The growth potential for such applications is considerable, argues GE, as China is the world's largest coal producer.

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