American power equipment giant General Electric is betting big on Bangladesh, encouraged by the exponential growth of its business in the country in the last three years, said a top official of the company.
“Bangladesh is a very strong market for GE,” Chuck Nugent, president and chief executive of GE's Gas Power Systems, told The Daily Star in an interview, on the sidelines of the correspondent's visit to GE's gas turbine manufacturing facility in Greenville in South Carolina last month.
Its business has been growing at 100 percent for the last three years, he said.
In Bangladesh, GE not only sells gas turbines for power plants but has also made equity investments in key power projects.
“Now we have over half of market share in total gas turbines in the country,” said Nugent, who has been with GE for 30 years.
GE has an installed base of 37 gas turbines -- which are combustion engines that convert natural gas or other liquid fuels into electricity -- that generate about 2,200MW of electricity in Bangladesh.
Another seven gas turbines are in the pipeline. In addition, GE has made 30 percent equity investment in Summit Power's 590MW combined cycle power plant in Meghnaghat.
It has also agreed to make an equity investment in Unique Group's 584MW power plant in Narayanganj.
“This gives huge confidence to others to bid for new power projects in Bangladesh,” said the GE veteran.
GE's customers in Bangladesh include both government utilities and independent power producers like Summit Power International, Max Power, Unique Group.
The American power generation giant has partnered with Bangladesh Power Development Board in several projects in Fenchuganj, Shahjibazar, Sylhet, Syedpur, Bhola, Khulna and Ghorashal. It has supplied world-class gas turbines to run the power plants. Nugent hopes that GE's business in Bangladesh will get a further boost with its newly developed 9HA gas turbine, which has achieved a record efficiency level of nearly 64 percent.
The cost of the technology provided by GE depends on multiple factors like the structure of the project, bidding requirements, financing structure, output required and so on.
The correspondent also spoke with GE Power's Chief Technology Officer Steven Hartman and General Manager of Fleet Management Justin Eggart at the monitoring and diagnostic centre in Atlanta, to know about the cyber threats emerging from the fast-moving technological developments.
A little disruption can cause havoc, Eggart said.
“We see people attempting to hack power plants across the world every day.”
GE has invested $2 billion for digitalisation so that the employees can monitor data round the clock and put engineers on alert within seconds.
“We could have monitored only 2 percent data five years ago. Now, we can monitor 80 percent data,” Eggart added.
GE has invested several billion dollars on cyber security measures to protect its more than 2,500 power generation assets across the globe, according to Hartman.
“We put a device in our power plants that gives alarm whenever there is an attempt of hacking and accordingly our engineers take immediate steps to protect customers' data.” Hartman said GE is yet to witness a successful cyber attack in any of its customers' power plants in around 180 countries.
Incorporated on April 15, 1892, GE is a global digital industrial company.
The company's products and services range from aircraft engines, power generation, and oil and gas production equipment to medical imaging, financing and industrial products.
GE is listed with the New York Stock Exchange; yesterday, each GE share traded at $13.37.
As of yesterday, GE's market capitalisation was $116 billion, which was almost two-fifth of Bangladesh's gross domestic product at the end of June.