The power generation industry is undergoing significant transformation as the world transitions toward clean energy and the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality. Let’s face it, very few of the world’s needs are more fundamental than power. We need energy for basic human necessities like clean water, heat and light, and healthcare—and to power our modern lives with telecommunications and internet access.
To continue to generate enough reliable power to meet growing global demand, power generators must transform and change the way they operate. Existing power plants need to become much more efficient, while power-generating assets need to be more reliable and flexible than ever before. Plants need to run with increased operational efficiency, reduced downtime and within ever tighter margins. Add to that the pressures of changing market dynamics and the “knowledge drain” of a retiring workforce.
At GE, we believe the energy landscape will change more over the next 10 years than it did in the previous hundred. We’re committed to helping solve the trilemma of the global energy transition— how to harness and distribute sustainable, reliable, and affordable electricity that can feed the growing global demand. Challenges abound for power generators and that’s where GE Digital can help—by providing digital tools, industrial software and services to help power plants become more flexible, reliable, and profitable.
I recently learned that nearly 800 million people on the planet still lack reliable access to power—and global demand is expected to grow by 50% by 2040. And even with the exponential growth of renewable energy resources we won’t have enough capacity from renewables to meet this demand. Additionally, renewable energy sources aren't always available. The sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't always blow. Still, energy consumers will want electricity. We need other sources of energy in those periods where the renewable sources aren't active, or when demand outstretches capacity.
The challenges are many: When and how to convert to greener gasses? What to do with existing operations? When to shutter or build new plants? How to manage renewable resources as they come onto the electrical grid? How to determine how much power to produce and when? How to store power? Capture carbon? Invest in Software? Just to name a few.
GE’s comprehensive portfolio of hardware and software solutions helps companies improve assets and operations performance while boosting workforce productivity, moving all of us closer towards net zero carbon.
As a wave of workers with industrial expertise begin to retire out of the workforce over the next decade, they’re taking with them invaluable historical and operational knowledge and creating a workforce gap that will hit the power sector especially hard. According to the 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, 84% of employers across the energy sector report difficulty in hiring qualified workers. The power industry is seeing job growth in clean energy but the skillsets it demands are changing. New workers may lack legacy knowledge of their predecessors but need digital acumen to adjust to a technology-powered landscape.
GE Digital’s products incorporate the domain knowledge that comes from being an industry-leading OEM, along with leading AI technologies that provide insights and recommendations to improve asset performance and operations management.
As we look toward the rapidly changing future of power generation, I’m excited about the future of energy—for the planet and for our customers. When I think about the fact that we are literally helping our customers bring power to people—that we play a part in powering hospitals, educating children, keeping the lights on all over the globe—I feel a profound sense of gratitude and responsibility. It’s a very exciting time in our industry.
Before I sign off, our friends at GE Power host Cutting Carbon, an informative podcast series dedicated to decarbonization and how technology will influence how we generate electricity in the future. I was pleased to join Colin Parris, GE Digital’s Chief Technology Officer, for a recent episode – Digital and the Grid. We discussed the role that the electrical grid will play today and tomorrow to ensure the growing energy needs of the world are met. If you’d like to hear more, you can listen in anytime.
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.
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