Networking pioneer Robert Metcalfe said that the value of a data network was proportional to the square of the number of connected users. Since nearly every home in the U.S. is connected to the electrical grid, American power networks should be some of the country’s most valuable networking assets.
The problem is that utilities are still learning to tap the intelligence of the power grid and to make it interactive. That should be easier with GE’s new grid management system called Grid IQ™ “Solutions as a Service” (SaaS). The system links power plants and transformers to smart meters in customers’ homes and businesses, pools and crunches their data in cloud-based computers, and turns the power grid into the Industrial Internet of Electricity.
He’s Empowered: GE’s Grid IQ turns the power grid into the Industrial Internet of Electricity.
The data flows between the cloud and advanced sensors located at key points of the grid, GPS sensors, outage and demand optimization management systems, and other technology. The system allows appliances, smart meters and utilities to talk to each other and manage the supply of power when it is needed. It can also re-route electricity during an outage and make the grid “self-healing.”
“The internet has changed the way we consume information and talk to each other, but now it can do more,” said Jeff Immelt, GE Chairman and CEO. “By connecting intelligent machines to each other and ultimately to people and by combining software and big data analytics, we can push the boundaries of physical and material sciences to change the way the world works.”
The world’s electricity demand is expected to increase more than 70 percent by 2035. This steep increase will present utilities with costly capacity, environmental and security needs. Greater efficiency is one way to tackle the problem. Mike Carlson, general manager of software solutions for GE’s Digital Energy business, said that Grid IQ SaaS “offers utilities a new method for monitoring, managing and controlling their grids more intelligently.”
Grid IQ SaaS was one of nine new “intelligent” service products that GE unveiled yesterday at the Minds + Machines conference in San Francisco. GE estimates that the new solutions could save customers $150 billion by improving efficiency and productivity across industries ranging from aviation to healthcare.