Category Archives: Energy

Electric Vehicles Could Impact the Grid

By Kenny Walter – Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a new computer simulation to explore the impacts in-home charging could have on the nation’s grid.

“Previous research into the amount of energy required by homes hasn’t taken into account plug-in electric vehicles,” Matteo Muratori, a transportation and energy systems engineer at NREL said in a statement. “Given that more people are choosing to drive these types of vehicles and charging them at home, this additional demand should not be overlooked.”

According to the study, as more PEVs are added, the distribution infrastructure might no longer be able to reliably support the local electricity demand. more>

When exponential innovation meets the infancy of “Industry X.0”


Accenture – With everything from agriculture to aeronautics in the midst of paradigm shift, a cautious approach to adopting new technologies simply can’t keep pace.

Nor will adopting just one innovation suffice. Effective adaptation almost always involves a combination of innovations working together: a dash of machine learning here, a sprinkle of automation there.

As Accenture Chief Strategy Officer Omar Abbosh describes: “You’re combining a series of innovations, one on the back of the next, to do something fundamentally different… You’ve all heard about Big Data and artificial intelligence and internet of things… They are all very meaningful in their own right, but when they come together they can have a massive impact on business and society.”

The benefits of combination abound. For example, amalgamating just five technologies—autonomous robots, AI, 3D printing, big data, and blockchain—could save industrial-equipment companies a total of $1.6 billion. more>

Updates from GE

Power Play: This Software Takes The Guesswork Out Of Energy Demand
By Bruce Watson – Predicting power demand used to be a simple science: People use more power during certain times — like the morning, when they cook breakfast and turn on their lights — and less during others, like when they hit the sack. Relying on predictable sources of electricity — like gas- and coal-fired power plants — utilities were able to balance supply and demand with some fairly straightforward math based on historical records and other data.

But the steady rise of renewable energy made the power landscape infinitely more complicated. On the supply side, changes in wind or cloud cover can sharply shift the amount of power available. Demand has also become harder to nail down as more consumers manage their power use with smart thermostats and appliances like connected ACs.

At the same time, market forces demand better power forecasts. Power plants and fuel are expensive, and they don’t want to operate or buy more equipment than they may need. “In some countries, regulators are asking power generators to guarantee the quality of their forecasts,” says Olivier Cognet, CEO of Swiss-based startup Predictive Layer.

“It’s no longer possible to say ‘We’ll sell you 20 turbines and see what they produce.’ It’s ‘We’ll produce x amount of energy by noon, y amount of energy in two hours and z energy in one month.” more>

Updates from GE

GE Is Helping Build A Huge Wind Farm On Santa’s Doorstep, Europe’s Largest
By Dorothy Pomerantz – In Markbygden forest in the northern Sweden, the temperature drops to minus 10 degrees Celsius in the winter and bitter winds blow. That makes this area 60 miles south of the arctic circle uncomfortable for humans, but the sparsely populated region, where real reindeer roam, is perfect for a wind farm.

Engineers there are now building the roads and preparing the land to erect some of the world’s largest wind turbines. When the project is complete, 179 GE turbines, each twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, will rise approximately 140 meters above the forest, where they will catch the nearly ceaseless wind to generate 650 megawatts of electricity. When complete in 2019, it will be the largest operating wind farm in Europe, increasing Sweden’s installed wind generation by 12 percent, says Thomas Thomsen of GE Renewables.

GE machines already power Europe’s largest operational wind farm in Fântânele-Cogealac in Romania, which can generate 600 megawatts. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Spain’s Forestalia Group to supply wind turbines for a planned 1,200-megawatt wind farm near Aragon. The company also will supply turbines for the planned 2,000-megawatt Wind Catcher in the Oklahoma Panhandle, which will be the largest wind farm in the U.S. more>

Updates from GE

Inside This South African Smelter, Software Is Going Platinum
By P.D. Olson – Demand for platinum, also known as the rich man’s gold, has been growing because of a long list of evolving industrial applications, including computer memory chips, dental crowns, defibrillators, catalytic converters for cars and even wedding bands.

The metal is so rare that miners and smelters literally move mountains to extract only a few hundred tons of the metal out of the earth’s crust every year. Following an expensive and time-consuming process, it takes them half a year and around 12 tons of ore to produce just a single troy ounce, or 31.1 grams, of platinum worth around $1,100.

No wonder producers like Lonmin, a platinum-mining company in South Africa, where 70 percent of the world’s platinum is produced, are looking for an upgrade.

Percy French, operations manager at Lonmin, is betting on a digital solution. A decade ago, he began using a smelter software application from GE’s Digital Mine suite to make his operation more efficient. By 2016 the software had helped him increase throughput at Lonmin.

Based on this early success, French upgraded his systems to include a new application that allows him to track plant performance and key performance indicators and also automate operations. The app, called Operations Performance Management (OPM), uses real-time and historical data along with advanced analytics to help Lonmin make better-informed operational decisions and help the plant troubleshoot and prevent issues with its machines and other assets. So far, the app has reduced chemical waste at Lonmin by 3 percent and has led to a 10 percent improvement in throughput. more>

The Dos And Don’ts Of Building A Smart City

By Steve Olenski – It’s important to put context around the purpose and benefit of building a smart city. The bigger picture is the creation of the digital economy in which smart cities will operate and contribute. A digital economy essentially needs smart cities to truly thrive and fulfill its potential.

The Smart Cities Council says that a smart city “uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability, and sustainability” by “collecting, communicating, and crunching” data from all sources. Because the digital economy operates on data, it could benefit from having city functions move to that platform. more>

Updates from GE

From Light To Bright: San Diego Is Building The World’s Largest Municipal Internet Of Things
By Bruce Watson -San Diego’s newest streetlights might not look all that special — and that’s exactly the point. Designed to blend in with the rest of the city’s outdoor lighting, they’re easy to overlook. Under the surface, though, the LED fixtures are actually data-gathering machines. They will allow San Diego to build the largest municipal internet-of-things network in the world.

San Diego’s digital lighting revolution started as a modest solution to a common problem. “We were broke,” David Graham, San Diego’s deputy chief operating officer, told GE Reports in February. “In the early 2000s, we went through about a decade of fiscal crisis, and we were trying to find ways to be more efficient, save money and reduce energy usage.”

One idea to save money was to replace the yellow glow of the city’s old sodium vapor streetlamps with efficient new LED lights. In addition to providing cleaner, broader-spectrum light, the new fixtures used 60 percent less energy and slashed maintenance needs because of their longer life spans. The city replaced more than 35,000 lights, yielding an estimated $2.2 million in savings per year.

But the new fixtures also brought to light new problems. “We know when a traditional light bulb isn’t working, because it burns out,” says Austin Ashe, general manager of Current, powered by GE’s Intelligent Cities program. “But an LED doesn’t burn out. It just degrades over time.” more> https://goo.gl/6fdyFY

Updates from GE

By Amy Kover – Standing on a 10-foot-wide platform 365 feet above the rolling green hills of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Kristen Hough looks tiny. The winds at this height are strong enough to spin a 500,000-pound wind turbine at 14 revolutions per minute. One strong gust could push a person over.

But Hough, 28, also looks unafraid. A wind technician, Hough is part of a team that is responsible for the electrical and mechanical upkeep of 61 turbines here that can produce 185 megawatts of energy — enough to power an entire city. She makes the climb to the top of a wind turbine at least once a day. At that height, Hough is in her element. “Even climbing the turbines [the first few times], it was so exciting that I knew it was what I was supposed to do,” she says.

Hough’s shift typically begins each morning at 7 a.m. when lead technician Mitch Burns assigns Hough and her five teammates to either handle routine maintenance — like tightening bolts and greasing gears — or troubleshoot problems. For instance, if the temperature in the gearbox appears a bit high, Hough needs to figure out why and fix it. Sometimes she can resolve the issue with a few taps on her laptop, but it -often requires hands-on attention instead. That’s when Hough gets out her safety gear and starts the long ascent to the top of the turbine. more> https://goo.gl/vWg2At

Updates from GE

Weathering The Storm: This Tech Will Help Utilities Keep The Lights On

By Bruce Watson – As Hurricane Harvey drenched the Texas coast in August — and Irma devastated the Caribbean and soaked Florida last week — the media was filled with scenes of flooded streets and gymnasiums crowded with people seeking shelter.

If earlier disasters are any indication, a key to these regions’ recovery may lie in how soon they are able to restore electricity to the millions of people who lost it. In the case of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, New York’s inundation with salt water knocked out power across New York City and and in many seaside towns, slowed down recovery efforts, and made it impossible for many people hit by the storm to return to their normal lives — and their jobs. According to some estimates, power and other infrastructure failures may have more than doubled Sandy’s long-term economic losses.

Part of the problem is the way that most regions plan for disasters. Traditional planning tends to focus on recovery — solving the problems caused by a disaster, like sheltering displaced people or fixing failed power grids. By comparison, grid resiliency, an emerging trend in preparedness, works to create infrastructure that will continue to function in the face of disaster or that can recover quickly. more> https://goo.gl/YUPzNT

Updates from GE

Sea Change: GE’s French Wind Turbine Factory Will Power Germany’s Renewables Revolution
By Tomas Kellner – GE is a relative newcomer to offshore wind. The company explored the field a decade ago and returned to the industry in 2015, when it acquired the energy assets of Alstom, and built its first wind farm in Long Island Sound near Block Island, Rhode Island, last year. As the inaugural offshore wind farm in the United States, the project made a splash even though it holds just five turbines. But Merkur, which will have 66 turbines, is a much bigger beast. “This one is special,” says Pascal Girault, who runs the Saint-Nazaire plant. “Everything is big.”

Girault spent the early part of his career managing supply chains for the car industry, but ramping up production for Merkur is no Sunday drive. Workers in Saint-Nazaire make generators and assemble nacelles for the 6-megawatt GE Haliade turbine. The nacelle is the casing on top of the tower that shelters the generator and other equipment. It includes some 30,000 components.

Adding to the task’s complexity, the composite blades for the machines’ 150-meter-diameter rotors come from GE’s LM Wind Power factory in Spain. The steel segments for the tower are being made in Germany and China. U.S. and European companies supply electronics and mechanical components for the converter and generator. “The scale and the speed of the project are challenging,” Girault says. more> https://goo.gl/GSScqV