Across the globe, engineers, scientists, thinkers, and innovators are trying to solve one of the most significant challenges of our time: decarbonization. The move away from carbon-producing fossil fuels to cleaner energy resources impacts every industry on the planet. It’s imperative that we figure out how to get sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy to meet growing demand and protect the future of the planet.
To answer the call for decarbonization, the power industry–from generation, to distribution and transmission–must navigate dramatic changes, including the climate; new, distributed energy resources coming onto the grid; the rise of the prosumer; growing global energy demand; and increased concerns around safety and cybersecurity.
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.
Recent cyber-attacks are a reminder of infrastructure vulnerability and the need to safeguard from future attacks. The grid is a shared ecosystem, and all stakeholders have a shared responsibility to secure it. This requires strong coordination, communication, and collaboration among industry partners. Organizations like the GridWise Alliance, of which GE Digital is a member, bring together industry leaders to create a common understanding of the operations and policy-related changes taking place across the electricity industry and what we need to do to secure and optimize operations.
We also work with organizations like Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to share technologies with other companies. Our GE research center in upstate New York is developing a first-of-its-kind, real-time cyber defense solution in partnership with the Department of Energy (DoE). This solution, Digital Ghost, leverages some of our existing AI technology that essentially creates a Digital Twin of industrial assets to rapidly detect and isolate cyber threats. This helps to enable real-time changes to maintain normal operations so industrial companies can mitigate the threat to maintain optimal operations.
The global energy transition is perhaps the most compelling imperative of our lifetimes and GE has a significant role to play across the entire energy spectrum. We have equipped 90% of the world’s power utilities and generate a third of the planet’s electricity. Simply put, decarbonization needs to happen. Without clean energy, the world simply ceases to work.
For humans to handle all of these changes–to do the right thing at the right time–is incredibly difficult. GE Digital’s industrial software, which serves more than 40% of Transmission and 30% of Distribution utilities globally, helps our customers respond to these dynamic challenges, so they can make smart decisions today and in the future.
Digitization will be key to making power-generating assets more efficient, the electric grid more secure and resilient, the aviation industry more sustainable, and helping manufacturers reduce waste.
Safe, secure management and orchestration of the distribution grid
Enable utilities to manage and orchestrate Renewables & DERs in an end-to-end manner, via flexible deployment options ranging from edge to cloud
Achieve network-level optimization with the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning