Natural gas is quickly becoming the key resource for power generation. As a result, many U.S. and global utilities are looking for ways to boost output and efficiency of their gas-fired power plants, but without spending dear capital on brand new turbines. Now there’s an “intelligent” way to do it.
A number of customers who asked GE to modernize their gas turbines also linked their machines to a GE service software system that can analyze turbine data and help optimize power production, reduce fuel costs and cut emissions.
A Brilliant Machine: GE’s Industrial Internet services and monitoring software can increase the output of this 7FA turbine by 5 percent and save $500,000 in annual fuel expenses.
The solution, called Advanced Gas Path (AGP), is part of GE’s services portfolio that taps the power of the Industrial Internet, connecting people, data, and machines. The software gathers and analyzes data from sensors embedded inside retrofitted GE gas turbines and monitors for temperature, speed, vibrations and other conditions inside. The system can increase power output by 5 percent, raise efficiency, and quicken response time to electricity fluctuations in the grid. GE estimates that a 1 percent improvement in gas turbine efficiency can cut fuel cost by more than $500,000 per turbine annually.
“The full potential of the Industrial Internet will be felt when the three primary digital elements — intelligent devices, intelligent systems and intelligent automation — fully merge with physical machines, facilities, fleets and networks,” said Marco Annunziata, GE’s chief economist and co-author, with Peter C. Evans, of a new GE report on the Industrial Internet. “When this occurs, the benefits of enhanced productivity, lower costs and reduced waste will propagate through the entire industrial economy.”
“Intelligent” systems like AGP that link networks and machines can improve virtually every segment of energy production. GE estimates that power producers will spend $292 billion on natural gas globally by 2015 and $440 billion by 2020. A 1 percent improvement in fuel performance of the installed gas turbine fleet could save $66 billion over 15 years. Evans and Annunziata write that with “better performing and longer-lived physical assets, the Industrial Internet will deliver new efficiency gains, accelerating productivity growth the way that the Industrial Revolution and the Internet Revolution did.”