Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

GE provides virtual twin of industrial power plants

Steve Rogerson
October 6, 2015
General Electric has introduced a software and hardware system that creates a virtual digital twin of an entire industrial power plant complex. Called Digital Power Plant, it is powered by GE’s Predix industrial internet operating system.
The system is a collection of physics-based methods and digital technologies that are used to model the present state of every asset in a digital power plant or digital wind farm. This technology is said to let utilities monitor and manage every aspect of the power generation ecosystem to generate electricity as cleanly, efficiently and securely as the global economy and environment now demand with real-time control and precision.
"The world is expected to need 50 per cent more power over the next 20 years, including providing electricity for the 1.3 billion people without access today,” said Steve Bolze, president and CEO of New York-based GE Power & Water. “At the same time, the electricity industry is undergoing a radical digital transformation unlocking whole new opportunities. Imagine the benefits to our global economy and society when the power source of the world's economy – electricity – is as digitally connected and efficient as the modern technologies dependent on that electrical power."
Central generation of energy will account for up to 95 per cent of the energy mix by 2025 and as a result GE’s Digital Power Plant will enable GE’s utility and industrial customers to harness information technologies to optimise the underlying infrastructure that generates electricity, in a manner that could transform the way electricity is generated and managed worldwide, helping reduce the impact of power production and consumption on the climate.
The expected benefits include up to $230m for a combined-cycle gas power plant and up to $50m for an existing combined-cycle gas-powered plant in savings. Across the power industry today this will equate to up to $75bn in savings.
The Digital Power Plant is more than connectivity. Once an entire power plant is digitised, it can deploy applications powered by the Predix platform to improve assets and operations. Predix is a secure cloud and platform built for and by industry experts to support the scale and requirements of industrial data. It also has security and governance built in to allow developers to build, test and deploy applications for highly regulated industries.
“To transform the entire energy value chain, we need a purpose-built, modern digital industrial stack – from software-defined machines, to the controls, to the cloud,” said Ganesh Bell, GE P&W chief digital officer. “We invite our customers to innovate with Predix to improve their performance and results.”
Exelon Generation and GE have agreed to implement a Predix-powered suite of enterprise-wide software technologies across three fuel sources – nuclear, gas and wind. These will enable Exelon to enhance its performance, efficiencies and reliability.
“Our industry is on the precipice of a digital disruption, and Exelon is very pleased to partner with GE on several pilot programmes that will help us deliver significant benefits for our customers, the industry and the environment,” said Michael Pacilio, EVP and COO at Exelon Generation.
Bolze added: “Exelon is one of the first movers in deploying industrial internet solutions. Given their history of innovation and delivering value to their customers, we are incredibly excited about the impact this partnership will deliver in terms of customer value, decarbonisation and our long-standing collaboration. The world needs affordable, accessible, reliable, secure and sustainable power, and digitisation is the next game changer.”
GE’s other launch customer, PSEG, recently chose GE’s software to upgrade multiple gas-powered plants to improve their reliability and operational performance. In addition, PSEG has chosen a 7HA.02 gas turbine for a combined-cycle plant to replace steam boilers in New Jersey.
“For merchant generators, every bit of efficiency and productivity matters to our bottom line,” said Rich Lopriore, president of PSEG Fossil. “Having the best power generation technology – both physical and digital – is critical to our competitiveness. We at PSEG would like to recognise GE in this new analytic approach; technology is the way we need to go in order to stay competitive in the industry.”
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Exelon Generation, operator of the largest nuclear power fleet in the USA, have announced the joint development of two digital systems based on Predix.
One system in joint development, an application known as Watchtower, will use data to predict asset performance and enable Exelon to obtain real-time operational status of plant equipment while also receiving proactive notifications of possible machine issues. The other, an application known as Lighthouse, will use advanced analytics to examine historical organisational performance indicators to enhance decision-making capabilities, reduce costs and optimise operational performance. Both applications are part of Digital Power Plant.