GE launches its new optimisation concept, the virtual power plant model

2 October 2015

GE has launched its latest Big Data initiative, a deep control solution based on the concept of, and designated as, the Digital Power Plant. GE describes it as 'a revolutionary software and hardware solution' that creates a virtual ''digital twin'' of an entire industrial power plant complex. It is powered by GE's Predix platform, the operating system of what GE calls the Industrial Internet, and is a collection of physics-based methods and digital technologies that are used to model the present state of every asset in a power plant or wind farm that has the necessary digital capability. This allows utilities to monitor and manage every aspect of the power generation ecosystem to generate electricity as cleanly, efficiently and securely as the global economy and environment now demand, with unprecedented real-time control and precision.
"The world is expected to need 50 % more power over the next 20 years, including providing electricity for the 1.3 billion people without access today," said Steve Bolze, president and CEO of GE Power & Water. "At the same time, the electricity industry is undergoing a radical digital transformation unlocking whole new opportunities. Imagine the benefits to our global economy and society when the power source of the world's economy, electricity, is as digitally connected and efficient as the modern technologies dependent on that electrical power."   
GE expects that central generation will account for up to 95 % of the energy mix by 2025. GE's Digital Power Plant 'will enable its utility and industrial customers to harness information technologies to optimise the underlying infrastructure that generates electricity, in a manner that will transform the way electricity is generated and managed worldwide, helping minimise the impact of power production and consumption to the climate.' The expected benefits include up to $230 million for a new combined-cycle gas power plant and up to $50 million for an existing combined-cycle gas-powered plant in savings. Across the power industry today this will equate to up to $75 billion in savings.

First application
GE already has the first two customers for its new initiative. New Jersey Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) is to deploy the system on its gas fired generation plant; and following extensive co-operation between GE and Exelon to develop suitable solutions, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Exelon Generation, operator of the largest nuclear power fleet in the USA, have announced that they will jointly develop two digital solutions based on GE's Predix platform. One solution, an application known as Watchtower, will utilise data to predict asset performance and enable Exelon to obtain real-time operational status of plant equipment while also receiving proactive notifications of possible machine issues. The other solution, an application known as Lighthouse, will use advanced analytics to examine historical organisational performance indicators to enhance decision-making capabilities, reduce costs and optimise operational performance.



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