Hold the candlelight and ice bucket! The first anniversary of GE’s acquisition of Alstom’s Power and Grid businesses is an opportunity for more efficient electricity generation across the power base of Australia and New Zealand utilities and mining sites. GE is also toasting access to brilliant combined solutions for distribution of energy across the national electricity network. So switch up the LED lighting, crank up the fridge and pour the champagne!
The Alstom-acquisition deal was finalised on November 2, 2015, when GE’s global CEO Jeff Immelt announced, “The complementary technology, global capability, installed base, and talent of Alstom power and water will further our core industrial growth. We are open for business and ready to deliver one of the most comprehensive technology offerings in the energy sector for our customers.”
“The big difference for GE Power is that we can talk to customers as a much larger supplier, offering multiple technologies and becoming a more strategic partner in energy generation and service,” says Shawn McIntosh, power services director for GE Power ANZ.
The GE Store—how GE shares technology and know-how across its businesses—is in full effect. In turbines, GE now offers a full suite of gas generators, which comprises its renowned efficient aeroderivative turbines and a range of heavy-duty gas turbines; plus it has new products in steam turbines. It also provides service across all generators, as well as service and upgrades of boiler technology.
“Alstom steam technology is a significant addition to our business,” says McIntosh. “We now have capabilities, not only to supply steam generators, but to redesign the installed base of other OEMs, to generate more power from the same plant within the existing footprint.”
“When I talk to Origin now, instead of talking as aeroderivatives or as GE heavy duty, and having Alstom go in separately, I can now talk to the utility about their entire fleet. That’s a huge advantage.” — Shawn McIntosh, GE Power
George Gerdan, country leader of Grid Solutions for Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, part of GE Energy Connections, is enjoying flexing greater engineering muscle in his combined team.
“Our engineers have capabilities in what we call network system studies, as well as in primary and secondary systems design, which lets us take part at the first stage of development of any major project.”
He says this allows greater integration of all GE products into the design of new substations and other infrastructure, and superior accuracy in providing quotes to customers— “because we understand the design so well”.
Such capabilities will be well used, says Gerdan, as more renewable energy projects connect to the grid, and as existing ageing infrastructure is upgraded.
GE has also expanded its range of hardware components and software; where it previously specialised in low- to medium-voltage products, the acquisition of Alstom has expanded the GE Store to include a complete range of high-voltage products.
“The legacy GE offering already had a very good penetration in the distribution companies—the poles and wires that deal with medium voltage,” says Gerdan. “The Alstom business gives us better penetration in the high-voltage transmission companies and power generators.”
The acquisition of Alstom boosted GE’s global installed power-generation base to some 1,800 gigawatts—that’s more than enough to supply the electricity requirements of the entire United States.
Gerdan is also excited to have access to a combined pipeline of research. GE is continuing the work of Alstom’s Europe-based research and development centre, which has made breakthroughs in improving the gases used to insulate electrical equipment.
“Traditionally, these gases have had very high carbon intensity,” explains Gerdan. “The research lab has invented a new, greener insulation gas for use in electricity grids. We’re looking forward to retrofitting our product portfolio over the next five to 10 years, to use this much cleaner gas.”
McIntosh praises his GE and Alstom teams’ support of one another during the integration process. Gerdan says the diversity created by combining company cultures has also been invigorating.
Says McIntosh, customers such as Origin Energy, AGL, and Rio Tinto appreciate dealing with an expanded and cohesive identity in GE Power; they can talk business across their entire generation base, and negotiate service agreements that make life easier in an otherwise fragmented market of suppliers.
It also enables utilities and miners to upgrade to greater power generation within existing plant footprints— both in steam generation, and in replacing some heavy-duty gas generators with super-efficient aero-derivative turbines.
Across power generation and electricity grid solutions, GE has gained significant scale, reach and installed base through integration with Alstom. “Having a broader offering really allows us to solve customers’ problems because now we have all the pieces of the solution,” says Gerdan.