New smart grid projects and ‘net zero energy home’ concept launched


Mark Little,
Senior Vice President
and Director,
GE Global Research
Niskayuna, NY, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 15, 2009 – Four new smart grid projects and plans for a “net zero energy home” project have been announced by power generation and energy delivery technology supplier GE.

With the goals of increasing energy security, energy efficiency, and promoting cleaner, alternative energy at U.S. military bases, GE has been awarded $2 million in federal stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for a smart microgrid demonstration project at Twentynine Palms Base, California. The company will design and demonstrate a smart energy management system that enables installations to more optimally manage on-site power generation and energy storage, while interacting with the regional electrical grid in a more intelligent and efficient way. Additionally, GE’s system will provide enhanced capabilities for installations to integrate renewable resources, such as solar energy, to help meet their electricity needs and reduce their carbon footprints.

In conjunction with central Canterbury electricity network, Orion New Zealand Limited, GE Energy has announced the implementation of the first phase of a sophisticated network management system to help improve power reliability for customers – the first of its kind to go live in New Zealand. The ENMAC Distribution Management System, to be fully implemented by mid-2010, will help Orion monitor the distribution grid and will give operators an accurate, real time picture of power flow, trouble spots and potential workarounds for outages.

Working with the Maui Electric Company, GE is to utilize distributed energy resources to help manage grid operations on the island of Maui. In partnership with the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), Maui Electric Company (MECO), the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) of the University of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy, GE has formally launched the Maui Smart Grid project which will develop and demonstrate the use of smart grid technologies to help MECO control peak circuit demand, maintain adequate circuit voltage levels, and integrate intermittent renewable energy resources.

Eka Chemicals Plant in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Canada, will be the first to demonstrate GE’s new smart grid asset optimization solution to help reduce transformer caused downtime in the plant. This first collaborative effort demonstrating the solution will illustrate how utilities and industrial sites can improve productivity, maximize transformer performance and extend asset life through status-based maintenance and upgrades.

The “net zero energy home” project combines GE’s most efficient appliances and lighting, new energy management systems and power generating and storing technologies in new home construction. When applied together, the system would enable a homeowner to achieve net zero energy costs by 2015. Part of the company’s ecomagination strategy, the net zero energy home offerings will be comprised of three major groups – energy efficient products including appliance and lighting products, energy management products that will enable consumers to manage their costs and energy consumption, and energy generation/storage products like solar PV, advanced energy storage and next generation thin film solar.

“Much of today’s electrical grid dates back to the days of our founder Thomas Edison” explained Mark Little, senior vice president and director, GE Global Research. “And while that grid has served us well for decades, we recognize that by investing in technologies to transform the current electrical infrastructure, GE will be able to provide powerful solutions for customers around the world for the next 100 years.”

A new poll from GE/Ipsos aimed at gauging existing U.S. and U.K. consumer awareness and comprehension of smart grid, has found that three out of five people in both countries would change their electricity consumption behavior around smart grid adoption. Two thirds in both countries would monitor their energy usage online at least once a week. Additionally, 73 percent were interested in the pricing structure behind electricity bills and how smart grid could affect those bills, with half of respondents in the U.S. and over one third in the U.K. willing to pay an increased monthly rate for smart grid technology if there was a corresponding reduction in overall energy costs by 15 percent.