Machines Now Talk: A Digital Boost for KSA’s Power Infrastructure

Machines Now Talk: A Digital Boost for KSA’s Power Infrastructure

October 13, 2016 at 01:10pm

In Saudi Arabia, temperatures can go from below freezing in mountainous regions in winter to more than 50 degrees along humid low-lying coasts in summer. So managing how these extremes affect electricity demand is a complex challenge.

That’s one reason why the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is working with GE to develop a Kingdom-wide, end-to-end digital infrastructure across the electricity value network. 

As a key milestone on its digital journey, SEC has established a Generation & Optimization Center (GOC) with a Center of Technology. This state of the art center will be equipped with GE digital solutions to monitor, analyze and enhance the reliability and efficiency of 16 SEC power plants, which together account for 42 gigawatts (GW) of power production, representing 76% of SEC’s total power generation and 53% of the Kingdom’s power capacity. 

The project will link generation and transmission helping SEC’s power generating capabilities to be one of the world’s most efficient and reliable. Taking these steps is crucial as the utility works to meet the anticipated 50% increase in electricity demand in the Kingdom by 2020.

 Key to this implementation will be digital industrial software running on GE’s Predix Industrial Internet operating system. Using big data collected from countless sensors on GE and other machines, software and data analytics will help SEC predict and improve the performance of their machines, and ultimately improve efficiency, reliability, availability and capacity.

 The software will also help SEC reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and more accurately predict fuel demand and supply to enhance business profitability. The expected savings derived from this technology can be up to US$ 50 million for a typical plant. As well, every 1% improvement in turbine heat rate efficiency can yield up to a 3% reduction in CO2 emissions

 “Software is transforming every industry, and companies such as SEC who move first to build data-centric business strategies will quickly create tremendous value and capture market opportunity, said Steve Bolze, President and CEO of GE Power. “GE is extremely proud to be SEC’s partner in this digital transformation.”

 In addition to weather-related variances, SEC also faces huge increases and decreases in demand for electricity in Mecca during the annual Hajj season, with the arrival of 2 million pilgrims from around the world.

 GE’s Business Optimization software will give SEC the ability to forecast generating capacity with a high degree of accuracy, so that it can increase output, or trade power profitably with power providers in neighboring countries during times of over or under supply.

 To help SEC meet its goal of reducing outage times by 60%, GE’s Asset Performance Management software will continuously monitor power plant equipment health across 500 power generating units. Insights gained from this software will enable plant operators to make decisions about when to repair or perform maintenance on equipment, thereby enhancing performance, reducing unplanned downtime and extending plant life.

 GE’s Operations Optimization software will help SEC more accurately forecast generating capability by making energy generation more predictable, thus enabling further cost reductions by allowing more accurate fuel purchasing, transportation and storage decisions.

Reflecting the end-to-end nature of the vision, SEC wants to implement a fully digital customer experience too, including the implementation of smart meters, which should reach 100% penetration by 2025.

GE has over eight decades of partnership in the Kingdom and is committed to supporting innovation in the Saudi economy in support of Saudi Vision 2030. It has 2,000 employees in the Kingdom, driving the Aviation, Healthcare, Oil & Gas, Power and Transportation businesses.

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