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Smart Grid solutions

Grid Solutions is at the core of the new multi-sector Smart Grid revolution. With its expertise in software, grid systems and electronics, Grid Solutions is ideally suited to develop a full suite of innovative Smart Grid solutions to help solve the challenges of the Smart Grid.

Watch this video to learn more about the history of the Smart Grid and the challenges faced by utilities. To learn more about the technologies Grid Solutions provides to build and support the Smart Grid, view our interactive Grid Explorer.

Challenges & Solutions

  • Smart Grid Challenges

    The creation and management of a smart grid brings about several challenges that electric utilities must overcome, often with the help of their end users. Below are a few of the key challenges utilities face when implementing a smart grid.

    • Replace energy loss with battery energy storage: Electric power generation is relatively fixed and stable, but demand fluctuates. When energy produced is higher than demanded, the excess is lost. By storing energy, network operators can more easily balance electricity supply and demand by charging the battery when there is a surplus, and distributing the stored energy when there is a high demand (e.g. during winter months).This also allows individual users to participate by installing their own solar panels and storing energy to sell back to the operator or using it themselves.
    • Energy and environmental efficiency: Using energy efficiently enables operators to provide the same service, product and level of comfort with less energy, and also reduces cost and carbon dioxin emissions. Environmental efficiency takes into account the energy source and any negative environmental impacts (clean renewables versus fossil fuel that has limited supply and generates CO2, and nuclear that produces radioactive wastes). The equipment life cycle and environmental externalities can all be incredibly affected by the choices made.
    • Peak load management and peak shaving: Traditional generators have been used during peak energy periods because they can start quickly and require low initial investment. However, they are not efficient and contribute to high carbon content during peak energy usage. Demand response solutions help shift or eliminate energy peaks, thereby reducing CO2 production and GHG emissions.
    • Renewable and distributed energy resources: Replacing fossil energy with renewable energy is a key challenge, hindered by the variability in wind and solar energy production and integration into the grid. However, as more renewable energy plants are integrated into the grid, the variability decreases and regular demand can be met.
    • Load leveling: Demand for electricity continually fluctuates based on the time of day, day of the week and the season, and energy suppliers must constantly adapt the production rates. By collecting data on the grid, smart management systems can forecast energy needs and allow suppliers to produce energy based on predicted usage.

    Solution Concepts

    In response to the challenges outlined above and spurred by technological advances, the utility industry has seen an increase in the number of concepts and solutions set forth to aid in the implementation and management of the smart grid.

    • Prosumer: A prosumer is simultaneously a consumer and a producer of electricity. Prosumers are new key actors of the grid, and contribute to grid reliability and renewable integration by managing their own production and consumption, and selling unused power back into the grid.
    • Demand response: Utilities traditionally match demand and supply by taking generating units on or off line, or importing power from other utilities. However, it can take a long time to come up to full power, the units may be expensive to operate, and demand may be greater than all the available power. Demand response seeks to adjust the demand for power instead of adjusting the supply, by moving some of the utility customer’s energy usage to off-peak hours.
    • Integrated Distribution Management System (IDMS): The smart grid gives distribution utilities access to information they never had before. This data often comes from a variety of equipment and resources that cannot communicate with each other. GE’s IDMS unites SCADA, DMS and OMS systems into one integrated platform that analyzes the information, significantly extending the capability of the local power grid and the dispatch of local energy resources.
    • City Energy Management System (CEMS): CEMS is a modular software platform that enables smart cities and territories to monitor, analyze and optimize their energy usage. It is a key decision support tool for the implementation and follow up of their own energy plans. Watch this video to learn more about smart cities.
    • Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS): DERMS integrates all sources of “green” energy resources at the distribution grid level, allowing for a real time management of distributed renewables, storage demand response, smart buildings and electric vehicles. DERMS delivers a full range of environmental benefits, including integration of small-scale renewables, connection of smart buildings to the grid, management of energy storage systems to integrate more renewables and eliminate peaks, optimization of electric vehicle charging to minimize loading peaks and reduce GHG transportation emissions, and management of end-user consumption via demand response functions.
    • Demand Response Management System (DRMS): GE’s e-terra Demand Response System helps utilities better exchange with their end customers to reduce consumption peaks, avoid bottlenecks and optimize electricity dispatch.

Environmental Benefits

  • The cost of generating one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity is 70-170 times more than the cost of “saving” a kWh through efficiency. GE’s smart grid technologies help reduce lost energy and cost, and at the same time enable a virtuous circle of environmental benefits.

    Improve energy efficiency:
        Lower delivery losses in transmission and distribution which enables consumers to use more of the power brought into the system.
        Anticipate and monitor demand to help minimize overcapacity.

    Optimize energy storage:
        Help network operators by storing energy so they can more easily balance electricity supply and demand from central and distributed energy resources.
        Optimize battery charging when there is a surplus of energy, and release the stored energy when there is a high demand (daily or seasonal peaks).

    Enable peak shaving:
        Reduce the peaks in demand for power to maximize the use of energy generated.
        Avoid investment in peak generators.
        Permit adaptation of energy usage times to meet energy production by using demand response.
        Disconnect microgrids from the centralized grid to operate autonomously, strengthen the grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances.
        GHG reduction resulting both from less peak generation (thermal) and from avoided investments (concrete from plant and transmission lines).

    Facilitate renewable integration:
        Optimize intermittent renewable energies by adding more clean wind, solar and biomass in the generation mix.
        Avoid investments in transmission and distribution network upgrades.

    Integrate local and domestic energy:
        Connect more domestic clean energy sources to the grid.
        Enable integration of new energy positive buildings.
        Lower reliance on the volatility of imported fuels and augment energy independence and security

    Facilitate eco citizen behaviors:
        Provide new opportunities for consumers to manage their electricity use, control costs and adapt wiser behavior in the use of energy through demand response.
        Empower users by providing solutions to connect individual energy production to the grid, where consumers not only buy and use energy, but can become producers as well (prosumers).
        Improve customer experience and security through education and communication from utilities to anticipate and prevent problems, and create sustainable relations between customers and the utility

    Reduce material labor and engineering needs:
        Save up to 15% costs with fewer wires and up to 50% with fewer panels for a smart grid installation.
        Sensors enable operators to be alerted before a machine fails and to save money by repairing rather than replacing.
        Solve problems with maintenance instead of repair - companies that employ proactive condition-based maintenance spend on average 2% of replacement asset value annually on maintenance while those that wait for equipment to fail spend an average of 13%.
        Maximize assets’ productive life cycles and reliability to reduce the need for new equipment.


  • GE’s Smart Grid Projects

    Andorra State – FEDA – Smart City Consulting
    Forcès Electriques d’Andorra wants to develop their roadmap vision through 2020 to improve their energy and cloud based information and communication infrastructures. The project aims at attracting new investors in the domains of finance, health and new energy services for the Andorra community.

    France – Issy Grid – Smart City - EMBix
    Started in 2012, Issy Grid is a pilot project displaying all smart grid technologies and involving key top players (Bouygues Real Estate, Bouygues Telecom, GE, EMBIX, Schneider, Total, and others). The specificity of the project is the connection and the real-time optimization of a 160000m² business district area and 2000 housing (a total of 15000 people). Grid Solutions is contributing to the project with its EMBIX solutions. The main environmental benefits targeted and results include reduction of energy consumption in the buildings, privacy of housing data and acceptability of sharing information by inhabitants, peak shaving leading to GHG reduction, integration of 1000 m² PV local production, and integration of electrical vehicle fleet in Issy.

    France - Nice Grid - DERMS
    Started in 2011, Nice Grid is a smart grid pilot project in southeastern France that gathers key players such as RTE, EDF, ERDF, GE and SAFT. The project is managed by the DSO ERDF and is funded by the national environment agency ADEME and the European Commission. Grid Solutions is contributing its DERMS software platform to the project. The Carros area is an electrical peninsula supplied only by a single 400kV line with 10,500 inhabitants, including residential and industrial areas, and a peak load of 20MW. It’s objectives are to integrate locally produced renewable resources into the grid (2.5 MWp photovoltaics), provide islanding of a low voltage district able to produce its own energy and use storage resources interconnected to the main grid, optimize peak demand reduction through various programs, and create prosumers awareness and residential flexibility.

    France – Poste Intelligent - Smart Substation
    Réseau de Transport de l’Electricité (RTE) and Grid Solutions are partnering to building the next reference architecture for future smart substations, a key step of the French program “Grid for the future”. Launched in 2012, “Poste Intelligent” (Smart Substation) is the first 100% digital substation model in the world, a real size demonstration with two substations (225kV and 90 kV). The project tests, in real conditions in the North of France, new digital control systems and primary equipment, including condition monitoring, new Human Machine Interface in the substation, and enhanced coordination between the high voltage and medium voltage grids. Together, these systems and equipment will enabling better monitoring, operation and maintenance in smart grid infrastructures. Project execution started in 2015. The experimentations are jointly conducted by RTE and Grid Solutions, and will measure the benefits for the environment, the local community and the grid industry after one year.

    France – Smart Grid Vendée – DERMS
    Engaged in 2013, Smart Grid Vendée is a territory/department scale project. Grid Solutions is delivering a Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS) for the Vendee department on the west coast of France, to equip the DSO with a new version of the Nice Grid MicroGrid Cockpit. It will pilot a range of smart grid technologies to tackle the changing energy landscape, integrating renewable energies and modernizing the electricity distribution grid, in closer collaboration with the TSO.

    France – SMILE French West Coast project
    Launched in 2016. the project SMILE is a large scale smart grid project including Brittany and Pays-de-la-Loire with an estimated 260 millions euros investment on a 3 year period (2017-2020). In continuity with Smart Grid Vendée, the area covered includes a large diversity of situations: coast line, tourist area (with seasonal consumption peaks), islands, ports and industrial areas.

    Malawi – Transmission Grid
    Millennium Challenge Account – Malawi (MCA-Malawi) is an entity established by the Malawi Government to implement and manage the US$350.7 Million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact. The Compact aims to reduce poverty by spurring economic growth in Malawi. Only eight percent of Malawians are connected to the grid. The project includes the installation of remote terminal units at existing and new transmission substations in the central and southern region of Malawi as well as the upgrading of the existing telecommunication system. Announced earlier this year, GE will design, supply, install and commission its latest EMS e-terraplatform solution that will allow for real time remote monitoring, planning and optimization of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM)’s transmission systems nationwide.

    United States – Duke Energy – Smart Grid
    The Duke Department of Energy Smart Grid Demonstration Project (North Carolina, United States), led by the Department of Energy is designed to efficiently integrate distributed energy resources into the grid to help the operator reach its smart grid targets for 2030, including a 40% improvement in system efficiency. Grid Solutions supplied its iDMS, to integrate multiple types of distributed resources and monitor information from several distributed interfaces. 

    United States – Renewable Integration and PLM
    The Hawaiian Islands are aggressively moving from their 80%-fossil-fuel-dependent energy generation to more renewable, carbon-free solutions. GE is working with the U.S. Department of Energy, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Maui Electric Company and Hawaiian Electric Company to deliver smart grid solutions that will help see 40% of Hawaii’s electricity coming from clean renewable energy sources by 2030. Hawaii’s holistic solution deployment includes the demonstration of increased solar and wind integration features through GE’s Distribution Management System. The deployment is also rolling out technology breakthroughs in energy storage and other renewables–integration features to maximize the usable energy from Hawaii’s vast renewable resources. At the same time, GE will demonstrate solutions including peak load management with demand response systems and volt/VAR technologies to reduce the need for peaking generation and help manage the integration of wind and solar power. The project is looking to reduce peak load in a substation by 15% and help enable higher penetrations of renewable energy in Maui.

    United States – Navy Shipyard DOE - Microgrid
    This project will support President Obama's Climate Action Plan and commitment to improve power grid resiliency in the USA and help critical facilities, communities and cities better prepare for possible electricity disruptions caused by extreme weather conditions. Grid Solutions’ objective of this funding is to perform research, development and testing of advanced microgrid controllers capable of managing and controlling microgrid systems to improve viability, reliability and resiliency of the electric distribution grid. This microgrid will benefit to the Navy Yard stakeholders by reducing both their energy and grid costs.