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Digital Energy

The Digital Energy Mix: Securing & Sustaining the Future

GE Staff
February 22, 2016

The demand for energy will continue to grow at an accelerated pace. Digitizing the energy ecosystem from end to end will be essential in helping meet this demand, enabling unprecedented opportunity socially, economically and individually.


Energy doesn’t just turn on the lights – it creates opportunity and allows people and societies to fulfill their potential. According to the World Economic Forum, a reliable and high-quality energy supply goes hand in hand with higher per capita incomes – meaning that energy drives an uplift in living standards. Whether powering the lights of a schoolhouse in Sub-Saharan Africa, a natural gas bus in China, a tech incubator in Detroit or an MRI machine in Western Europe – efficient and sustainable energy solutions are essential for progress.

But the need for energy is growing rapidly. The world’s population is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, with 90 percent of the growth occurring in developing countries where energy use is predicted to double[1]. Currently, more than one in six people in the world lack access to electricity and one in three can’t depend on the sources they have[2]. And countries that have reliable access face big challenges as they look to upgrade aging infrastructure and increase efficiency to make economic, environmental and efficiency improvements.

In order to provide the necessary energy to unlock economic potential in these countries, public and private organizations must come together and collaborate in new ways to develop and deploy new solutions. Within industry we must be more open to joint innovation and partnerships across sectors.

It is also essential to craft the right mix and balance of energy resources to match demand with supply in the most efficient way possible. This is accomplished by integrating digital technologies across the entire energy value chain to improve overall efficiency, cost effectiveness, resilience and sustainability of the system. The process starts by merging the physical and digital - integrating energy-producing machines like gas and wind turbines, oil wells, reactors, and hydro generators with networked sensors and software that generate data and analytics. This enables power and information to flow in multiple directions to improve the performance of the machines as well as the entire energy ecosystem.

The International Energy Agency estimates that $20 trillion will be invested in power and grid technology over the next twenty-five years to meet demand. During the same period, $25 trillion will be invested to extract and transport energy resources to end users, including pipelines, rail systems, and roads while $22 trillion will be invested in end user efficiency[3].

The world needs to take a holistic approach across all energy sources, including fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear and emerging technologies to meet demand. This is especially important given the fast pace of change in technology and the volatility in economic developments — in this new world, flexibility equals resiliency.

Developing end-to-end solutions and visibility across the entire energy value chain is important. We need to focus on optimizing the extraction and transportation of resources, conversion, generation, and transmission and distribution systems. And the transformation of the industrial world with digital technology will mean greater efficiency, sustainability and control for end users. Collectively, we can seize the unprecedented opportunity to harness technology, cloud solutions and new business models to transform the future of the energy sector.


With more than 120 years experience and the shared expertise and technology of the GE Store driving growth, GE delivers one of the most comprehensive technology portfolios in the energy sector across fuel sources, providing customized, end-to-end solutions across the entire energy value chain.

  • GE equipment and systems deliver 1/3 of the world’s electricity, each day adding enough power capacity to support 100,000 people around the world

  • As importantly, GE is active and impactful across the entire energy value chain, with:

    • 20% of global renewable energy capacity

    • 85% of offshore oil rigs using GE technology

    • 1,500 GW of installed base power generation

    • equipment installed in 90% of the utilities worldwide

    • superior thermal efficiency offerings with total plant capabilities

    • a broad grid portfolio with the footprint and scale to compete globally

    • eco partnerships on hybrid gas solar solutions and energy neutral waste water, and

    • a $13 billion global energy debt and equity financing portfolio.

And with Predix, GE’s Industrial Cloud Platform, we provide a digital layer to help optimize the entire ecosystem, resulting in more efficient, sustainable and cost effective energy solutions. Digitizing the energy mix with the Predix Industrial Cloud Platform offers 20% potential increase in performance across customer base.

Never before have there been so many ways to power the planet – but GE is committed to doing it smartly. The best results will come from balancing a mix of fuel sources and creating maximum efficiency through the power of digital. So whether it’s greater oil and gas recovery, wind farms that adjust to weather changes, vessels that can predict potential failure before it strikes, or power plants that use analytics to increase their efficiency – we are headed into a brighter future where an enhanced energy ecosystem will mean more opportunities for a thriving world.






(Top image: This supercritical steam turbine holds an efficiency record. Courtesy of GE Power)



All views expressed are those of the authors.