GE’s Smart Microgrids: Efficient and Reliable

Nov. 24, 2015
Smart microgrids are reliable and efficient, and GE says it has the ability to leverage its experience and expertise to make them even more so.

Smart microgrids are reliable and efficient, and GE has the ability to leverage its experience and expertise to make them even more efficient,  says Jim Walsh, general manager of GE’s new Automation & Controls solutions in this podcast interview. (See player above.)

The company recently acquired Alstom’s power and grid business, a move that gives the company the ability to pursue markets in a more holistic way, he says in this interview.

GE partnered with Pacific Data Electric–an electrical contracting company that specializes in critical power design and build–on a state-of-the art smart microgrid.

The microgrid system is unique because it provides redundancy and reliability, says Rebecca Boll, executive product line manager for GE Intelligent Platforms.

“If something goes wrong with a power source, and there’s trip, customers don’t feel it,” she explains in this podcast interview. There’s more than one control system in the system’s architecture, and the system is designed so backup control is automatically turned on when one controller stops working, she says. “You can switch to a different control system without a blip.”

The microgrid can collect data, analyze it and communicate that information to a control system or operators who are overseeing the microgrid. This allows them to make decisions about how to optimally run the system, says Rod Rice, general manager, Platforms Product Management at GE Intelligent Platforms.

“The system can take data that’s readily available, handle it to apply additional intelligence, and make that information available to the right people at the right time,” he says. “That’s what makes it smart.”

GE provides a complete solution based on the expertise of GE that’s deeper than what the average system would provide, he says. “The expertise is in the form of analytics and guidance and instructions that allow people to operate their assets-whether microgrids or turbines—more efficiently than competitors would,” he says.

The GE representatives characterized the smart microgrid project with Pacific Data Electric as a “case study.” Pacific Data Electric integrates utility-scale energy storage and microgrid systems ranging from light commercial designs to utility-scale, according to the company website.

“PDE’s Electrical Training Institute Smart Micogrid demonstrates how an existing electrical infrastructure integrated with advanced electronics, energy storage, solar, and controls provides a platform for smarter and more reliable electrical systems,” says PDE’s website. “These state-of-the-art technologies enable adoption of the emerging smart grid, facilitate integration of electric vehicles to the grid, and supports California’s 2020 renewable portfolio standards requiring 33% of the state’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources.”

Listen to the podcast interview in the player above.

About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

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