Some 1.3 billion people don’t have access to reliable electricity today. The International Energy Agency’s 2014 World Energy Outlook estimates the world needs to add some 7,200 gigawatts (GW) of power generating capacity by 2040 to meet new demand and replace old plants. Two thirds of that growth will be in non-OECD countries, including places like China.
If you’re looking for a solution, GE is a good place to shop. That’s a point that Steve Bolze, chief executive of GE Power, made to investors last Friday during a presentation at the UBS Industrials and Transportation Conference.
GE’s recent acquisition of Alstom’s power and grid business boosted its global installed power generation base to some 1,800 gigawatts (GW). Sure, the world’s largest installed power base is good to have, but Bolze also stressed to investors the importance of the GE Store, the idea that different GE businesses can share the same knowledge and research to quickly build innovative products.
The GE Store makes the whole of GE more competitive than its parts, Bolze said. Take a look at a handful of examples of how the GE Store works.
Taking from the store:
GE Aviation was the first business to experiment with 3D printing and successfully produced the first commercially viable 3D-printed GE part (see above): a component for the fuel nozzle of the LEAP jet engine. (Aviation engineers even printed parts for an entire model jet engine and then turned it on.)
Now other GE businesses such as GE Healthcare, GE Oil & Gas and GE Power are all experimenting with the technology and looking for ways to incorporate GE Aviation’s insights in its designs.
There are some 2,100 aeroderivative gas turbines generating electricity around the world. Despite being firmly planted to the ground, these machines have “aero” in their name in recognition of their roots in GE Aviation. They use the compressor, combustor and turbine from the CF6 jet engine to generate power.
Maintenance inspection & intervals:
GE Oil & Gas has a lot of experience running engines that use a variety of different fuels. The engineers and scientists from Bolze’s business have leveraged their knowledge to extend the maintenance intervals for their turbines, allowing them to operate longer between repairs.
Giving to the store:
GE Power and GE Global Research have been experimenting with a GE-developed super material called ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). After a successful run inside a 2-megawatt gas turbine, GE Aviation decided to test parts made from CMCs inside jet engines. Today, CMCs are one of the key technologies inside the LEAP next-generation jet engine developed by CFM International, a joint company between GE and France’s Safran (Snecma). Even though the engine won’t enter service until next year, it’s already the best selling jet engine in GE’s history. CFM has have received more that 7,000 orders and commitments for the LEAP valued at more than $125 billion.
Last December, GE Power reached an $800 million deal with Egypt to provide the country with 46 gas turbines that can generate 2.6 GW. But with the hot summer around the corner, Egypt needed more than just the equipment. They needed someone to bring it online as soon as possible. GE Energy Management, which focuses on power transmission and distribution, helped install 34 turbines in a record 6 months—more than 50 percent faster than what it typically takes.
The former chief executive of GE’s power generation business, Vic Abate, recently became the head of GE Global Research (GRC). He’ll draw on his 25 years of experience from GE Power to lead nine global research facilities and team of 50,000 engineers and scientists. The GRC works on the most cutting-edge innovations and technologies within the company, focusing on GE’s long-run needs.
Laser MicroJet Technology:
GE Power uses Laser MicroJet technology to improve the cooling capabilities of their gas turbine parts. The technology shoots a laser beam inside of a hair-thin jet of water, which acts like an optical fiber and guides the laser. GE Aviation has been working to get cost out of their CMC parts, and it just so happens this laser is very good at cutting CMCs. So GE Power lent their laser to Aviation for experimenting. The results were very positive, and Aviation has placed orders for their own machine. It will make parts for the LEAP jet engine.