Helping utilities make the right decisions as they navigate through grid modernization and supporting them as they make their business cases for smart grid, GE has introduced an interactive 3D world that presents a complete power system spanning from the power plant to the power consumer. The Grid Explorer platform makes it easier for utilities and energy intensive industries to determine the best solutions for particular challenges to grid modernization.
“The Grid Explorer was designed to help simplify complex engineering concepts and the conversation around modernizing the grid,” said Claudio Cargnelli, GE Digital Energy’s chief marketing officer, whose team led the development and deployment of the new Grid Explorer.
The tool was designed to help audiences at all levels within a utility or industrial operation-from the C-suite down to the power systems engineer or technician in the field. The tool allows users to discover critical grid challenges and facts across six industry segments, allows them to explore and learn business outcomes from across 50 solutions, and interact with 3D tools and videos from a library of more than 400 interactive resources.
“As we have focused on simplifying traditionally complex engineering concepts, the Grid Explorer can be used to help our customers develop their business cases, ensuring business leaders and key stakeholders have a clear understanding of why investments in grid modernization are so important,” Cargnelli said.
The tool seems to have several purposes, however. Cargnelli said that it is also being used to inspire the next generation of power system engineers and technicians by showing them the exciting opportunities that exist in this industry, which is going to experience more change in the next decade than there has been in the last century. “With 40% of the engineers and 60% of the executives at utility companies set to retire in the next five years, attracting tomorrow's talent is critical for our industry,” Cargnelli said.
The Grid Explorer can also help utilities engage with their customers, which is becoming more important every year. It can help explain the complexities of the evolving grid and the investments necessary to modernize the grid and maintain a stable power supply. “With power consumers quickly becoming power producers as well, the need for a 2-way dialog between the utility and the customer is critical,” Cargnelli said. “Collaborating with our utility customers, we have been able to leverage our resources and expertise to develop customized education tools and interactive experiences that drive customer engagement and awareness, deployed as part of a utility's engagement & communications strategy.”
Cargnelli mentioned that this tool could have helped him earlier in his career as well. “Right from University to my early years in the workforce, a tool like this would have been greatly beneficial to simplify some of the complex concepts in our industry that are traditionally explained using electrical diagrams, mathematical equations and thermal model curves,” he explained. “Being a very visual and interactive tool, it provides the context needed to truly understand how a power system works, the key challenges our customers are facing and potential solutions and related business outcomes.”
“We are living in very exciting times, with a renewed focus and attention on modernizing the power system. There is significant change in front of us and with that change comes opportunities. As utilities navigate through these opportunities, choosing the right partners is going to be important to ensuring a successful grid modernization journey.”
When asked where their inspiration came from to build this tool, Cargnelli said he and his team are always thinking about and looking at how to leverage new technologies to apply it to marketing and the power system industry. “From 3D gaming engines and virtual reality to display & touch technologies, we look for ways to create an engaging and unique experience. A couple years back we implemented the latest in video wall technologies in our Customer Experience Center, in Toronto, to create a 60ft wide immersive experience that now features the new Grid Explorer.”, says Cargnelli.
Browsing through the Grid Explorer tool, users will see illustrated concepts such as digitized substations, distributed generation, energy management systems, and system integrity protection.
“It is very exciting to see vendors like GE, creating such interesting and exciting tools, helping to develop and push our industry forward,” said Rick Bush, editorial director of T&D World.