Jack Weisz
Commercial Director Latin America of Onshore Wind
GE Renewable Energy
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Integral Solutions for Lower LCOE

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 18:14

Q: How do GE’s specialized technologies differentiate from others in the market?
A: At GE Wind, part of GE Renewable Energy, we not only offer cutting-edge technology to customers but also a complete solution that allows them to place the lowest LCOE possible. This is achieved by offering a packed solution with all the right items coming from the broad set of activities in which GE has a business. This means, for example, working hand in hand with GE Capital’s Energy Financial Services team, or with GE Energy Connections business to optimize the balance of plant of wind farms. Our final objective is to become the partner of choice that gets completely involved with its customers at each and every step of the project development.
Q: How can GE help its customers make viable projects in Mexico, where prices have dropped drastically?
A: Mexico is blessed with wind resources. This has allowed wind project developers to place low prices in the auctions. For developers to successfully finish projects they must focus on reaching the lowest LCOE possible. Beyond thinking in CAPEX and OPEX only, this means considering 10 to 15 variables at the same time. To ensure customers do reach the lowest LCOE we sit down with them to find the best way to achieve it. This is not only for the benefit of the company that wants to participate in the auctions, but for Mexico overall to reach its clean energy goals. Our offer goes beyond a turbine as a commodity. We bring together a wide portfolio of services offered by GE to make the project more competitive. It is a solution that delivers the lowest LCOE possible.
Q: What other GE business divisions can offer value for your customers in the wind energy sector?
A: In terms of technology, it is important to remember that it is not enough to build a wind farm, it has to be connected to the grid. This connection involves heavy engineering to integrate the substation and get it connected into the national electricity system. Our expert team can support this activity to optimize the design of the connection and its costs. Doing the work right and implementing the right technology from the beginning may save costs, for example eliminating the need for unnecessary capacity banks or static synchronous compensators. In terms of the business model, if a customer is seeking a financial instrument to further enhance its competitiveness by getting subordinated debt, equity or enabling an export credit agency to value the project and be part of it, that is something we can offer through GE Capital and working with GE Energy Financial Services. GE Capital has the ability to deliver tailor-made solutions to customers for specific projects.
Q: What barriers is GE working to bring down in the wind energy sector?
A: The next frontier is related to the integration of hybrid systems that include wind, solar and energy storage. In this area we have Wind Integrated Solar Energy (WISE), which is a hybrid solution that integrates wind and solar. These are complementary resources that work very well together since there may be periods with wind but without sun or vice versa. The technology finds a balance between the resources to reduce costs and increase production, therefore improving the LCOE of the project. What makes this solution even more effective is the usage of energy storage, and GE is heavily investing in that arena to make renewables less intermittent and more dispatchable to the grid.
Q: How important is the digital world for GE’s future business direction?
A: Our GE Digital division is extremely important for us. As the world becomes more digital, the ability to include digital tools to optimize performance will be more valuable. Thanks to the wide array of digital solutions available, there can be several small changes introduced into the functioning of a plant, all of them ultimately having a bigger impact on the customers’ profitability. Within the GE Digital division, we have the ability to create a digital wind farm, which is a set of tools that essentially mimic a real wind farm to run a series of optimization processes that continuously help customers improve the operation of the real wind farm.