Exciting times ahead for aero: Meet Clive Nickolay, GE Gas Power’s aeroderivative business leader

You recently joined GE to lead GE Gas Power’s Aeroderivative business line. Could you tell us more about yourself and your background?

I bring 30 years of experience from the power industry to GE. My previous roles in business development, sales, project management, applications engineering, and general management have taken me to over 60 countries on six continents. I’ve helped customers solve problems in every corner of the world. The most important experience I bring though, is that I have been a customer of GE for many years. My previous company owned and operated GE’s LM6000 engine, providing essential service to the industry adjacent to the plant. This plant required an incredibly high operational uptime for continuous production, but we also needed it to be available on a moment’s notice to take advantage of any market opportunities. So, as a customer I have experienced how financially and operationally critical it is for the equipment to operate the way it’s expected to. I am thrilled at the opportunity to join GE and to help this business be all it can be.

What is your mission for GE’s aeroderivative business? Are there any immediate actions you’re planning to take on in 2021?

What’s most important is that we continue getting the basics right. We are evolving our culture at GE with full focus on deploying lean across the organization. In the last few months we’ve held lean workshops in our service depots and manufacturing facilities and on our core business processes identifying significant improvement opportunities. One of the most tangible benefits our customers will see is the improved turnaround time in our service depots. With this in mind, we have already started making changes with the expectation that our customers will see significant progress throughout this year. For example, we are collaborating on large scale improvements in supply chain with GE Aviation, and we are continuing to invest in our service depots in Jacintoport and Massa and introduce targeted improvements in shop flow and quality driven by lean methodologies. As GE focuses on being a disciplined lean organization, it provides us the opportunity to do better for our customers and as a former customer myself, I am fully committed to making it happen.

What are the main needs and challenges for aeroderivative customers today and how can our portfolio help them stay competitive?

The answer really depends on the customer and on the application. When there is an urgent need for significant MWs, our ability to respond and deploy them quickly is key. We are in a unique position based on our industry-leading experience and the significant installed base of our trailer mounted product range.  We’ve deployed this technology throughout the world, most recently in Mexico and in the Bahamas.

Another key focus area for customers is increasing renewables penetration. When operational flexibility is key, our LM product line is perfect to provide reliable stable power to balance fluctuating renewable resources. In all applications our ultimate goal is to make sure that our customers are successful in their day-to-day operations.

As you mentioned, the share of renewable power generation is on the rise and many countries have set ambitious decarbonization goals. How can aeroderivatives play a role in a more decarbonized future?

The nature of aeroderivative turbines enables them to work hand in hand with renewables, supplementing the grid when necessary to balance supply and demand with reduced environmental impact. And when hydrogen becomes readily available, aeroderivatives can become part of a system with significantly reduced carbon emissions.

GE recently won important projects in the US and in Germany. Can you elaborate more on this and why is it significant for GE and for our customers?

Our project in Germany is a very exciting project for both our customer, RWE, and GE. It is a 300MW project that fulfils the precise need I described before, supplementing wind and solar resources to maintain reliable supply when renewables are not available. It is the first application of the LM2500XPRESS*, a solution that can be deployed rapidly and cost effectively, but also ideally configured to provide the operational flexibility and optionality that these applications require. We are implementing the same application in the US, Colorado, together with our customer, Colorado Springs Utility Board (CSU). This implementation is however solving for a different decarbonization challenge: switching from coal to gas power generation. In alignment with Colorado’s goals to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions, CSU committed to retiring the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant by December 31, 2022—12 years earlier than previously planned. Implementing six of our LM2500XPRESS units will help CSU better integrate renewable energy sources, further reduce CO2 emissions, and accelerate the retirement of the Martin Drake coal fired power plant.

*Trademark of General Electric Company

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