Experienced Support to Modernize Transmission and DistributionWed, 02/19/2014 - 13:56
Q: What are the core areas of GE Industrial Solutions’ expertise?
A: We are focused on how to manage the transmission, distribution and control of electrical energy. One of our business segments covers utilities, where we are oriented on the automation and efficiency of transmission and the electrical grid. Another line of business is more focused on power conversion, which covers variable frequency drives, certain motors and small generators. We also have our industrial solutions business, which takes care of the electrical distribution and control part of our portfolio, including solutions for energy saving applications, motor control centers, switchboards and lighting controllers. The final area of focus is automation, where we integrate platforms with programmable logic controllers (PLC), automation software and power management control systems. With all these businesses, we intend to provide customers with reliable and efficient energy solutions.
Q: What are the key areas of opportunity that you have found for the transmission, distribution and conversion of electricity in Mexico?
A: One of our priorities is grid automation, namely how we are going to interconnect all the different sources of energy and how we can bring a degree of smart technology to the grid. If we look at industrial consumption, one of the biggest concerns right now is safety. Therefore, we are investing a lot of money in R&D for arc flash mitigation problems that we hear a lot about from our customers.
Q: How can GE cooperate with CFE in order to improve and optimize the processes it works with?
A: GE has been cooperating with CFE for a long time. We want to bring our experience from different markets worldwide, where solutions such as smart grid technologies have already been proven, to Mexico. We are testing smart meters in projects with CFE and local governments; for example, we are helping CFE understand what impact the introduction of electrical vehicles and the accompanying charging infrastructure would have on the grid. GE is also analyzing the government’s needs in terms of expanding transmission lines and bringing in protection technologies to avoid certain problems.
A couple years ago, in Mexico City’s Centro Histórico, we installed a charging station for the municipality’s taxi program, combining solar panels and the power from CFE. We did this because electrical vehicles represent a solution for the pollution of fuel engines. We needed to bring an alternative to better generate that electricity. That is the combination between renewable energy and a green approach to energy management. We are also working with CFE to understand its need for substation automation and build automation architecture for existing equipment. We try to understand its requirements, we present our international best practices, we train its engineers, and we introduce our innovative solutions. Then we take its concerns on board, we devise pilot programs to carry out real tests and give them hard data so it can take decisions based on what would happen.
Q: What have been the greatest breakthroughs in your R&D activities, and how could they be applied in Mexico?
A: A great example of how we are investing in R&D and making a change in the industry is how we are treating arc faults in industrial applications. We developed this solution, while people said the world was not ready for a complete system including arc fault mitigation. But GE has proven we are already there. It is the only company in the world that can offer a combined solution for mitigation within a complete system. We are working on bringing quick solutions to customers’ needs while bringing something new to the market.
Q: How is GE approaching the challenge of increasing energy efficiency to make the Mexican industry more competitive?
A: For example, 2013 saw the launch of the Industrial Internet, which is a GE initiative to have all our equipment connected through the Internet to ensure its smart activity. For industrial customers, the Industrial Internet can interconnect all their equipment, allowing the maintenance manager to make decisions on a tablet about what level of energy consumption is being used or to move loads from utilities to a generator. This does not just concern electrical equipment, the intention is to have all of our equipment and features communicating through the Industrial Internet platform.