Our strategy is to look at complete system and plant design – so everything to do with electrification, grid integration and connection, exceptionally also extends to the panels themselves – to provide one integrated package to customers to optimize overall plant design for cost-efficiency, and financial services as the project enabler.

Interview with Richard Reno of GE Power Conversion’s Renewables Segment

Richard Reno | GE Power Conversion

Could you give us an overview of your company’s solar offering and strategy?

We are Power Conversion, GE’s electrification business. We provide electrical equipment and digital solutions that cover the life cycle of our customers’ energy projects. Within the solar sector, we are able to supply every aspect of a solar farm’s lifespan—from LV5 solar inverters, to SunIQ plant controls, digital solutions such as asset performance management, and long-term services.

Our strategy is to look at complete system and plant design – so everything to do with electrification,  grid integration and connection, exceptionally also extends to the panels themselves  – to provide one integrated package to customers to optimize overall plant design for cost-efficiency, and financial services as the project enabler.

 

You pointed out digital technologies... how is digital going to disrupt / transform the industry exactly?

The possibilities opened up by the new world of IoT that will see US$50 billion worth of assets connected to the Internet by 2020 are not yet realized by the solar industry. Real-time, Big Data-informed intelligence and analytics are set to redefine the reliability of solar performance and productivity expectations by automating and optimizing predictive maintenance and monitoring across every item of solar plant hardware. The outcome is reduced costs and downtime – plus greater yield – in an industry where replacing just one faulty part has often meant days of disruption and lost output.
 

Where do you see the industry today in terms of this digital journey? And where is GE?

The solar sector is ripe for the digital transformation to further boost its productivity and viability. A few industry leaders have contracted with us and are achieving immediate and meaningful improvements in their cost structure, enabling faster growth.

For example, we have recently been chosen by Invenergy, North America’s largest, independent, privately-held renewable energy company, to deploy GE’s solar asset performance management (APM) software, powered by Predix, to a 20 megawatt (MW) solar farm. This opportunity will target to achieve over 99 percent plant availability throughout the lifespan of the renewable farm thanks to smarter usages of personnel and parts, and with lower risk.

 

What is GE’s competitive edge when it comes to digital solar technologies? What is the digital strategy for you to stay ahead of the competition?

We have developed the industry’s first cloud-based software platform, Predix. It is equipment agnostic, meaning our digital solutions can be used for any solar farm assets regardless of its equipment type. It is an open platform that powers all of GE’s software applications and allows GE, other OEMs, and customers to create applications to support specific use cases. Its use throughout the industry will save tremendous amounts of money, as it eradicates the need to build multiple platforms across companies.

 

Can you run us through an example of how a customer would implement your digital technology in their facility?

Customer would need a Field Agent installed at each site to collect high resolution data and upload that data to the Predix Cloud.  We would also collect historical data on the inverters and begin the digital twin creation of the plant, inverters and other plant assets.

GE and customer will then have a comprehensive view of the plant performance, and more specifically, how components would act in the future.  After full implementation, Predix monitors real time high resolution data to find anomalies and determine if those off-standard behaviour will lead to a future component failure, so that maintenance or replacement can be scheduled before the failure.

For maintenance leaders, this is a central planning and optimization tool which customers use to decide which work should be done, who should do it and when, and then track and dispatch the work via work orders.
 

What other industries does this digital technology approach affect?

GE has invested in building capabilities that can deliver outcomes across many different industries across transportation, aviation, power generation and distribution, healthcare, oil & gas, wind, mining and manufacturing. The outcomes range from the reduction of unplanned downtime to improved asset output and operational efficiency.

 


 

Reno_Richard-06WEBAbout Richard Reno

As the leader of GE Power Conversion’s  Renewables Segment, Rich has responsibility for the Solar, Wind and Hydro segments. He assumed this role in 2017. Prior to this, he led Power Conversions Global Projects Organization, covering all industry segments.

 

 


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