Power Grid

07 Jan 2020

Smart Grids to Manage Two Thirds of Global Power Networks by 2050

07 Jan 2020  by Gas to Power Journal   
Grid balancing becomes paramount as the share of intermittent supply from renewable power sources keeps rising fast in most developed countries around the globe. Smart grids are hence expected to manage two-thirds of global net electricity supply by 2050, and by that time an estimated $548 billion will be invested in batteries for energy storage.

A staggering 1,291GW of new battery capacity are forecast to be added to 2050, some 40% of which will be placed behind-the-meter. “Battery prices are already down 79% in 2010, and we expect the ongoing build-out of battery manufacturing for electric vehicles to continue to drive down their prices for stationary applications, so that they reach $70/kWh by 2030, 67% down from today,” commented Seb Henbest at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Reacting to this trend, GE has developed solutions to modernize the grid through digital transformers and substations, asset lifecycle management services and advanced energy management systems (EMS) with full WAMS enhancement. These systems enable grid operators to increase network utilization and stability, allowing for greater renewable integration and network automation.

Smart grids & digital substations

Smart grids are able to recalibrate itself in real-time to balance demand and integrate multiple-generation resources. Digital substations, meanwhile, enable utility operators to maximize asset and substation utilization up to 30%. Operators can also collect and analyze data to detect potential failures up to six months in advance.

With this in mind, GE Power’s Grid Solutions has created digitally connected solutions including the “Digital Twin” for Power Transformers whose sensor technology delivers condition-based data and statistic models to build a software-enabled model of the transformer or even the entire substation. This interactive model allows operators to move from reactive to predictive maintenance solutions and improve system efficiency.

GE’s Asset Lifecycle Management Services include methods to collect distribution and transmission asset data with a view to reducing failure rates by up to 50%, lower maintenance costs by up to 25% and extend asset life by up to 20%. By incorporating the use of data, these end-to-end services optimize grid asset management strategies.

Digital transformation – applied to Sub-Saharan Africa – could help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to consumers. According to a GE whitepaper, co-authored by Frost & Sullivan, smart grids will play a key role in the region. They could facilitate smooth integration of renewable energy sources; promote interoperability between all types of equipment; enable the growth of distributed generation, support demand-side management; and provide flexibility and visibility of the entire grid.

“Transmission and distribution networks are seen to be the weakest links in Africa’s power systems and hence represent a huge opportunity area for improvement,” Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, GE’s Grid Solutions business, Sub Saharan Africa said, stressing the need to “move beyond simply maintaining and repairing aged infrastructure.” “To truly advance the power sector, a holistic approach needs to be adopted,” he added, suggesting by utilizing internet of things (IoT) technology, the smarter grids help converge operating technology (OT) with information technology (IT), while incorporating distributed generation and energy storage.


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