What will it take for digitalization to become a mainstream reality?
Ganesh Bell, Vice-President of GE Digital, says that he has “long held a belief that every industry will be reimagined with software, and I foresee an end-to-end digitalized electricity value network. It will be a network in which every node doesn’t just generate or consume electricity, it also generates a data bit for every electron.”
And he adds that “the data generated will fuel our industry’s ability to drive-up efficiency, lower emissions, and bring more flexibility and resilience to generation and to the grid. It will also transform the way we operate and maintain our assets, and streamline labour-intensive processes.”
Writing exclusively in Pei magazine, Bell says digitalization “will give the industry the insights it needs to intelligently manage demand (and supply) from a proliferation of electrified buildings and vehicles. A connected Electricity Value Network will ultimately enable the creation of an Internet of Energy, and with it new business models for providers and more choice for consumers.”
He explains that the journey to the empowered consumer “begins with the digitalization of central generation and the grid. Without digitalized generation, no power producer will have the insights it needs to forecast accurately and trade intelligently in a digital marketplace. Without a digital grid, we can’t possibly seamlessly integrate distributed energy resources, nor put the power of choice in the hands of our customers.”
But he warns against presuming this to be a long-term trend. “The first pieces of the digital puzzle are already coming together at the world’s leading power producers and utilities.
“Central generation will clearly be a critical component of the electricity value network for decades to come, yet the future of our industry will also be characterized by renewable energy resources that are geographically dispersed and whose ownership is also distributed.”