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GE’s Digital Power Plant: Applying the Internet of Things to the Energy Industry

GE Names Stephan Reimelt President, CEO of Power Conversion Business

GE on Tuesday unveiled the Digital Power Plant – an Industrial Internet solution that couples software and hardware for the analysis and optimization of a power plant.

Joined by Ganesh Bell, GE chief digital officer and general manager of software and analytics, GE Power & Water President and CEO Steve Bolze announced the launch from the company’s Minds + Machines 2015 conference in San Francisco.

“There’s a major digital transformation going on in the energy industry, and GE is driving it,” said Bolze.

Increased use of renewables, resiliency issues and sustainability concerns are just a few drivers behind the industry’s need to transform, said Bolze, and “digitization is the single biggest enabler of that change.”

The Digital Power Plant creates a “digital twin” of the physical power plant, offering real-time simulation while monitoring every asset in the plant.

Based on Predix, GE’s operating software for the Industrial Internet, the Digital Power Plant is not limited to GE components.  It can monitor any asset in a plant, providing “intelligent response and actions,” said Bell.

The platform optimizes existing infrastructure and provides for greater efficiency and output, more flexibility for renewables integration and improved grid stability.

Savings are expected to top $230 million over the lifetime of a new combined-cycle gas power plant and $50 million for an existing combined-cycle power plant.  That accounts for $75 billion in savings across the industry.

On the heels of the Digital Power Plant launch, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Exelon Generation announced the development of two digital solutions based on GE’s Predix platform.

One of the solutions, known as Watchtower, utilizes data to predict asset performance and enables Exelon to obtain real-time operational status of plant equipment while receiving notifications of potential issues.

The other solution, known as Lighthouse, uses advanced analytics to examine historical organizational performance indicators to enhance decision-making capabilities.

“Our industry is on the precipice of a digital revolution and Exelon is excited to partner with GE on several pilot programs that will help us deliver significant benefits for our customers, the industry and the environment,” said Michael Pacilio, executive vice president and COO of Exelon Generation.

GE’s other launch customer, PSEG, recently chose GE’s software solutions to upgrade multiple gas-powered plants to improve reliability and operational performance.

“For merchant generators, every bit of efficiency and productivity matters to our bottom line,” said Rich Lopriore, president of PSEG Fossil LLC.  “Having the best power generation technology — both physical and digital — is critical to our competitiveness.  We at PSEG would like to recognize GE in this new analytic approach; technology is the way we need to go in order to stay competitive in industry.”