GE to provide Enel with software for monitoring power plant assets
(Credit: Enel)

GE to provide Enel with software for monitoring power plant assets

Predix deal between GE and Enel will initially focus on asset performance management in 14 power plants in Europe and Latin America.

Last week, General Electric (GE) announced that it has won a deal to supply its Predix software to the global thermal generation division of Enel, the Italian energy giant.

The software is to be implemented as a predictive diagnostic tool, monitoring the performance of assets in 14 thermal power plants located in Europe and Latin America. These include 13 gas-fired and 1 coal-fired power plants with an overall installed capacity of 7GW.

All the power plants involved in this project use equipment from GE or Alstom. The implementation of Predix is expected to begin this month and should be completed by the end of the year.

Read more: Energy: How ENEL is using IoT to embrace the ‘energy revolution’

Asset performance management  

Internet of Business spoke to Craig Jones, global vice president of commercial operations at GE Digital, about the deal. It involves GE’s Predix-based APM [asset performance management] software, fed by information coming from connected machines and sensors around these 14 power plants.

Once this data is collected in the cloud-based Predix platform, APM will be used to apply advance predictive analytics to detect and diagnose equipment problems before they become major issues.

“If you think about a traditional power plant, and all of the data that is produced by the equipment inside it on a daily basis, only around 2 percent of it gets analysed in order to improve that power plant’s performance,” says Jones.

“So our software is going to help Enel get much more organized around things like reducing equipment failure and getting real-time detectors in place that indicate when equipment should be looked at from a maintenance perspective. That will help with things like reducing break-fix costs, outages and overall revenue lost.”

There are four overall goals here, he said, which Enel shares with other owners and operators of power plants: increased performance, increased reliability, optimised output and reduced costs. “If you think about Enel, a massive organisation, these four areas become very difficult to manage,” Jones told us. To put that in perspective, Enel works in 37 countries on 5 continents, has a net installed capacity  of around 84 GW and some 64 million customers. Its electricity and gas distribution networks runs to some 2.1 million kilometres.

Read more: Benefits of digitized power plants threatened by glacial progress

Starting small, with potential to grow

For now, then, Enel is starting small – in relative terms – with Predix, as it seeks to increase the reliability and availability of assets in those 14 power stations. GE clearly hopes this will lead onto bigger things, though.

“Our learning over the last couple of years is that what customers of all sizes like to do is try before they really go ‘all in’,” says Jones. “So what we’re trying to do here with Enel is take the operating profile that we can best put our arms around in a very controlled manner. These 14 sites were chosen based on our ability to impact those and then share our success across a broader stakeholder map and ultimately extend the partnership.”

Other recent GE APM customer wins include Belgian biorefinery Alco Bio Fuel, Turkish power company GAMA Enerji and Pakistan-based Engro, which is using APM to monitor six power plants in Pakistan and Nigeria.

General Electric also uses APM itself, at its own Global Electricity Monitoring and Diagnostics Center in Atlanta, Georgia, from which it provides monitoring as a service to more than 500 power producers and utilities, collectively responsible for some 900 power plants worldwide.

Every day, this center receives more than 200 billion data tags from 1 million sensors attached to 5,000 assets in power plants across more than 60 countries, according to GE.

GE Digital CEO Bill Ruh has stated that the insights derived from analysing that data in Predix APM enables the company, on behalf of its customers, to reduce unplanned downtime by up to 5 percent, reduce false alarms by up to 75 percent, and to reduce operations and maintenance costs by up to 25 percent. Applied globally, Run has stated, “this technology has the potential to transform lives, businesses and economies.”

Coming soon: Our Internet of Energy event will be taking place in Berlin, Germany on 6 & 7 March 2018. Attendees will hear how companies in this sector are harnessing the power of IoT to transform distributed energy resources. 

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