Driving Utility Profit Digitally

GE launches expanded suite of Predix–based software applications designed to drive new profit opportunities for power producers and utilities

A rendering of what a trading desk enabled with GE’s digital solutions could look like.

GE launched an expanded suite of Predix –based software applications designed to  harness the power of the Industrial IoT to drive new profit opportunities for power producers and utilities.

The new ‘Digital Utility’ solutions connect energy traders with valuable, real-time plant productivity and capacity data to enable more profitable analytics-informed trading, the company said.

GE said the software will help electricity industry customers see how and when they can make money, and then optimize their operations in sync with their market trading activity. GE said the technology will be relevant in all deregulated markets, but particularly so in North America, where 50-75% of all electricity generated by public and investor-owned utilities is tradeable.

Additional new offerings include a Baseline Security Center designed to increase operational security for power producers, and services designed to help utilities plan for a digital transformation, GE said.

GE’s ‘Digital Utility’ solutions are designed to help electricity businesses navigate rapidly changing markets. Low demand growth, falling wholesale power prices, excess capacity from the growth of renewable energy sources, and long-term investments to thermal generation are greatly impacting power and utility businesses’ profitability, the company said.

Last year, 86% of new energy capacity added in the European Union came from renewable sources, GE said. The preference for, and intermittency of, those resources is dramatically changing the role of traditional fuels, and led European utilities to spend €1 billion on grid balancing services, GE said. The trend is likely to repeat itself globally with 138.5 GW of renewable power capacity added worldwide in 2016.

For energy businesses across the Electricity Value Network (EVN), remaining profitable means responding quickly to short-term trading opportunities, maximizing capacity for peak demand periods, and strategically planning to address long-term supply and demand trends. That requires traditional fuel types to respond quickly and flexibly to demand and supply fluctuations.

GE said its Digital Utility software suite serves these needs, connecting data from electricity generation, distribution and transmission assets to enable more informed financial decision making. The software leverages a catalogue of more than 100 000 GE Digital Twins to deliver insights about efficiency, capacity, emissions, flexibility and availability that traders can use to bid with confidence in long-term, day-ahead and short-term markets.

GE’s new Business Optimization application is designed to enable real-time communication between trading and plant operations to inform the entire bid to bill process. Replacing disparate spreadsheets and trading informed only by base-level capacity, the Business Optimization application alerts a generation business of profitable trading opportunities – often highly profitable short-term opportunities– and informs what the utility can bid into market, GE said.

GE also updated its Operations Optimization application, which offers real-time visibility into plant and fleet-wide performance. The updates will help utilities understand where to invest time and resources to improve these measures, GE said. New capabilities include the ability to measure delivery against performance targets, recommendations on how to better meet targets, and closed feedback technology that will help utilities make changes and improve performance.

GE is also introducing a single dashboard view of asset health across the entire EVN, including renewables, traditional power and grid. Drawing on GE’s Digital Twin technology and an analytics catalogue based on more than 125 million hours of machine operating data, GE’s Asset Performance Management (APM) is designed to offer offers the highest failure mode coverage and lowest false positives in the industry, covering 70% of all NERC failure modes for combined-cycle plants.

As part of the APM dashboard, work orders will connect with field service technicians to dispatch and provide information for operations and maintenance. Workers can submit completed O&M information back into the system, closing a full loop from problem identification to resolution. This field service data makes the APM application more intelligent with each work order and enables better analytics with each alert.

GE said many utilities struggle simply to maintain current versions of security software or to run the latest security “patches” from vendors. With its new Baseline Security Center, GE said it will offer a set of tools, configurations and services focused on reducing cyber security risk across EVN.

Based on recommendations of the Center for Internet Security, the Baseline Security Center offers services including patch management, anti-malware, identity management, network and host hardening and intrusion detection. GE saod/

GE also introduced three new types of services to help power producers and utilities develop digital strategies. Digital Transformation Services include Digital Visioning workshops, a Digital Effectiveness Assessment, Business Value Engineering and Digital Transformation Mapping. New Digital Plant Services provides digital subject matter experts to help customers implement recommendations drawn from the Digital Transformation process. New Tiered Support Services will provide customers different levels of support tied to their ongoing use of GE’s Business Optimization, Operations Optimization and Asset Performance Management software applications.

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