GE squares up to consultants with digital plan

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Richard Heap
May 22, 2015
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GE squares up to consultants with digital plan

“Wind energy still hasn’t reached its full potential. The way wind farms are built today is still very sub-optimal. It’s far less efficient and profitable than they actually could be.”

So said Anne McEntee, president and CEO of renewables at GE Power & Water, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2015 conference in Orlando this week.

She made the statement as the US manufacturing giant launched a new service called the ‘digital wind farm’, which uses ‘big data’ to help address that lack of efficiency. So what is this? And why is GE getting into performance monitoring in such a big way?

The ‘digital wind farm’ is a computer modelling service that takes information from sensors on turbines about how the wind farm is performing; and also pulls in weather forecasting and wind pattern information to correlate and predict how the wind farm is set to perform. The turbines can then be adjusted and refined accordingly to maximise production.

For investors and operators, this service has clear benefits. First, it can help them design schemes more efficiently in the first place; and, second, it can help them to run completed projects more efficiently. If turbines can store energy and predict weather patterns then it means they can sell energy to the grid when it is more lucrative; and it also enables wind farm owners to monitor their turbines and target maintenance spend where most needed.

In real terms, GE thinks the system would boost energy production by 20% and add around $100m in extra value over the lifetime of a 100MW project.

And, with more insight into their portfolio, investors can undertake better financial forecasts and develop a far deeper understanding of their project than they have been able to so far. This is good news for the investment community at a time when there is a growing need for transparency and greater understanding of the assets under management.

The introduction of this service therefore brings GE closer to the financiers behind the portfolios; and it also places the manufacturer squarely up against some of the more well-established consultancies in the field – that have spent years developing independent wind mapping, monitoring and optimisation tools that aim to tackle exactly this challenge.

For GE, therefore, they either feel that wind portfolio performance hasn’t been properly addressed; or they see a greater opportunity for growth in the sale of software support services, as opposed to in pure equipment sales. We think the latter is most likely.

Whether that’s a reflection on the wider state of the US wind energy market, or on the state of innovation and development within GE is of course very much up for debate.

But it does signal a new aspect in the complex relationship between what is offered by the consultancies and the major manufacturers.

“Wind energy still hasn’t reached its full potential. The way wind farms are built today is still very sub-optimal. It’s far less efficient and profitable than they actually could be.”

So said Anne McEntee, president and CEO of renewables at GE Power & Water, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2015 conference in Orlando this week.

She made the statement as the US manufacturing giant launched a new service called the ‘digital wind farm’, which uses ‘big data’ to help address that lack of efficiency. So what is this? And why is GE getting into performance monitoring in such a big way?

The ‘digital wind farm’ is a computer modelling service that takes information from sensors on turbines about how the wind farm is performing; and also pulls in weather forecasting and wind pattern information to correlate and predict how the wind farm is set to perform. The turbines can then be adjusted and refined accordingly to maximise production.

For investors and operators, this service has clear benefits. First, it can help them design schemes more efficiently in the first place; and, second, it can help them to run completed projects more efficiently. If turbines can store energy and predict weather patterns then it means they can sell energy to the grid when it is more lucrative; and it also enables wind farm owners to monitor their turbines and target maintenance spend where most needed.

In real terms, GE thinks the system would boost energy production by 20% and add around $100m in extra value over the lifetime of a 100MW project.

And, with more insight into their portfolio, investors can undertake better financial forecasts and develop a far deeper understanding of their project than they have been able to so far. This is good news for the investment community at a time when there is a growing need for transparency and greater understanding of the assets under management.

The introduction of this service therefore brings GE closer to the financiers behind the portfolios; and it also places the manufacturer squarely up against some of the more well-established consultancies in the field – that have spent years developing independent wind mapping, monitoring and optimisation tools that aim to tackle exactly this challenge.

For GE, therefore, they either feel that wind portfolio performance hasn’t been properly addressed; or they see a greater opportunity for growth in the sale of software support services, as opposed to in pure equipment sales. We think the latter is most likely.

Whether that’s a reflection on the wider state of the US wind energy market, or on the state of innovation and development within GE is of course very much up for debate.

But it does signal a new aspect in the complex relationship between what is offered by the consultancies and the major manufacturers.

“Wind energy still hasn’t reached its full potential. The way wind farms are built today is still very sub-optimal. It’s far less efficient and profitable than they actually could be.”

So said Anne McEntee, president and CEO of renewables at GE Power & Water, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2015 conference in Orlando this week.

She made the statement as the US manufacturing giant launched a new service called the ‘digital wind farm’, which uses ‘big data’ to help address that lack of efficiency. So what is this? And why is GE getting into performance monitoring in such a big way?

The ‘digital wind farm’ is a computer modelling service that takes information from sensors on turbines about how the wind farm is performing; and also pulls in weather forecasting and wind pattern information to correlate and predict how the wind farm is set to perform. The turbines can then be adjusted and refined accordingly to maximise production.

For investors and operators, this service has clear benefits. First, it can help them design schemes more efficiently in the first place; and, second, it can help them to run completed projects more efficiently. If turbines can store energy and predict weather patterns then it means they can sell energy to the grid when it is more lucrative; and it also enables wind farm owners to monitor their turbines and target maintenance spend where most needed.

In real terms, GE thinks the system would boost energy production by 20% and add around $100m in extra value over the lifetime of a 100MW project.

And, with more insight into their portfolio, investors can undertake better financial forecasts and develop a far deeper understanding of their project than they have been able to so far. This is good news for the investment community at a time when there is a growing need for transparency and greater understanding of the assets under management.

The introduction of this service therefore brings GE closer to the financiers behind the portfolios; and it also places the manufacturer squarely up against some of the more well-established consultancies in the field – that have spent years developing independent wind mapping, monitoring and optimisation tools that aim to tackle exactly this challenge.

For GE, therefore, they either feel that wind portfolio performance hasn’t been properly addressed; or they see a greater opportunity for growth in the sale of software support services, as opposed to in pure equipment sales. We think the latter is most likely.

Whether that’s a reflection on the wider state of the US wind energy market, or on the state of innovation and development within GE is of course very much up for debate.

But it does signal a new aspect in the complex relationship between what is offered by the consultancies and the major manufacturers.

“Wind energy still hasn’t reached its full potential. The way wind farms are built today is still very sub-optimal. It’s far less efficient and profitable than they actually could be.”

So said Anne McEntee, president and CEO of renewables at GE Power & Water, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2015 conference in Orlando this week.

She made the statement as the US manufacturing giant launched a new service called the ‘digital wind farm’, which uses ‘big data’ to help address that lack of efficiency. So what is this? And why is GE getting into performance monitoring in such a big way?

The ‘digital wind farm’ is a computer modelling service that takes information from sensors on turbines about how the wind farm is performing; and also pulls in weather forecasting and wind pattern information to correlate and predict how the wind farm is set to perform. The turbines can then be adjusted and refined accordingly to maximise production.

For investors and operators, this service has clear benefits. First, it can help them design schemes more efficiently in the first place; and, second, it can help them to run completed projects more efficiently. If turbines can store energy and predict weather patterns then it means they can sell energy to the grid when it is more lucrative; and it also enables wind farm owners to monitor their turbines and target maintenance spend where most needed.

In real terms, GE thinks the system would boost energy production by 20% and add around $100m in extra value over the lifetime of a 100MW project.

And, with more insight into their portfolio, investors can undertake better financial forecasts and develop a far deeper understanding of their project than they have been able to so far. This is good news for the investment community at a time when there is a growing need for transparency and greater understanding of the assets under management.

The introduction of this service therefore brings GE closer to the financiers behind the portfolios; and it also places the manufacturer squarely up against some of the more well-established consultancies in the field – that have spent years developing independent wind mapping, monitoring and optimisation tools that aim to tackle exactly this challenge.

For GE, therefore, they either feel that wind portfolio performance hasn’t been properly addressed; or they see a greater opportunity for growth in the sale of software support services, as opposed to in pure equipment sales. We think the latter is most likely.

Whether that’s a reflection on the wider state of the US wind energy market, or on the state of innovation and development within GE is of course very much up for debate.

But it does signal a new aspect in the complex relationship between what is offered by the consultancies and the major manufacturers.

“Wind energy still hasn’t reached its full potential. The way wind farms are built today is still very sub-optimal. It’s far less efficient and profitable than they actually could be.”

So said Anne McEntee, president and CEO of renewables at GE Power & Water, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2015 conference in Orlando this week.

She made the statement as the US manufacturing giant launched a new service called the ‘digital wind farm’, which uses ‘big data’ to help address that lack of efficiency. So what is this? And why is GE getting into performance monitoring in such a big way?

The ‘digital wind farm’ is a computer modelling service that takes information from sensors on turbines about how the wind farm is performing; and also pulls in weather forecasting and wind pattern information to correlate and predict how the wind farm is set to perform. The turbines can then be adjusted and refined accordingly to maximise production.

For investors and operators, this service has clear benefits. First, it can help them design schemes more efficiently in the first place; and, second, it can help them to run completed projects more efficiently. If turbines can store energy and predict weather patterns then it means they can sell energy to the grid when it is more lucrative; and it also enables wind farm owners to monitor their turbines and target maintenance spend where most needed.

In real terms, GE thinks the system would boost energy production by 20% and add around $100m in extra value over the lifetime of a 100MW project.

And, with more insight into their portfolio, investors can undertake better financial forecasts and develop a far deeper understanding of their project than they have been able to so far. This is good news for the investment community at a time when there is a growing need for transparency and greater understanding of the assets under management.

The introduction of this service therefore brings GE closer to the financiers behind the portfolios; and it also places the manufacturer squarely up against some of the more well-established consultancies in the field – that have spent years developing independent wind mapping, monitoring and optimisation tools that aim to tackle exactly this challenge.

For GE, therefore, they either feel that wind portfolio performance hasn’t been properly addressed; or they see a greater opportunity for growth in the sale of software support services, as opposed to in pure equipment sales. We think the latter is most likely.

Whether that’s a reflection on the wider state of the US wind energy market, or on the state of innovation and development within GE is of course very much up for debate.

But it does signal a new aspect in the complex relationship between what is offered by the consultancies and the major manufacturers.

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