GE helped pioneer the electrical grid more than a hundred years ago. It stands as one of the most complex machines on the planet. Back then we had a one-lane road with everything moving in a single direction. Today, we’re turning that one-lane road into a major interstate freeway–with complicated on- and off-ramps, exchanges, and detours, and with traffic flowing in multiple directions.
The grid is critical because of two things: Connection and Continuity. It is the connective tissue in an energy ecosystem responsible for getting electricity where it needs to go. You can think of it as the biggest machine ever built. It provides continuity by keeping the flow of energy steady and uninterrupted as supply and demand changes. This is an increasingly big challenge based on the age of the grid and the increasing energy challenges we face.
The modernization of the electrical grid requires complex, interoperable software to support grid orchestration, enhance connectivity to the edge, and improve asset management. The current grid will not support the energy transition. Sources of energy are changing, like renewables. Add to that the rise of the “prosumer”–consumers who become a vital part of the connection and continuity of the grid by generating energy via solar panels, driving electric vehicles, and adopting new, often remote, ways of working.
Matching the human factor with digital technologies is vital to the energy transition for several key reasons. The most important is data. Utilities need to deliver power as efficiently, effectively, and affordably as possible–and the ability to do that comes down to the quality of the data. The more data we have about the state of assets and the state of the environment, the more we can bring to bear the full capabilities of digital tools. That’s why we’re focused on harnessing the power of Digital Twins and Industrial AI to help utilities manage increasingly complex electric grids much faster, while anticipating problems before they happen.