The European Union can be a leader in the implementation of a 21st century energy infrastructure, according to the keynote address by GE’s Bob Gilligan at the IEEE Smart Grid World Forum in Brussels today. While outlining the challenges of growing electricity demand and its environmental impact, Gilligan showed how emerging energy solutions can enable Europe and the world to sustain and improve our energy-dependent lifestyles. The key, he said, is starting with a viable roadmap to guide measured improvement over the coming decades.
“Powering economic growth in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner is achievable, but requires the modernization of our transmission and distribution systems. This modernization activity will be a continuous process and will be more of an evolution than a revolution,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president—digital energy for GE Energy Services. “What’s important is that we begin today to lay the foundation for a smarter grid, starting with a communications infrastructure and smart sensors and control devices and progressing to more sophisticated control optimization solutions.”
He sees tomorrow’s breakthroughs, like the European Union’s proposed “Energy Highways” for transporting remote wind and solar power to urban consumption centers, as an important element of an overall energy plan to meet our growing energy needs in a more sustainable way. We need clear government policy, with funding support, to drive the utility investments needed to assure reliable, clean power and improved energy efficiency from energy generation, through delivery, to consumption.
Gilligan used electric cars as an example of a sustainable energy breakthrough enabled by the ongoing improvements being made to our energy infrastructure. “Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations without communications, intelligence and smart pricing would be a huge missed opportunity,” said Gilligan. “If EV charging can be done at 'off peak' times, the overall energy system can be further optimized, improving efficiency and lowering costs to the consumer.”
The European Parliament and Council’s 20/20/20 initiative to increase energy efficiency by 20 percent, produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent is a positive demonstration of the region’s commitment to responsible energy leadership, Gilligan said. He called on governments and regulators at the national level to provide the leadership, incentives and accommodations needed for the transformation to a low-carbon economy.
Gilligan supported his call for an energy evolution with a bevy of facts about the future of energy, including:
• Global electricity demand is forecasted to increase 75 percent by 20301;
• More than 40 percent of current environmental emissions are from electric generation2;
• Much of Europe’s electrical infrastructure is at or approaching the end of its design life.
“Our electrical future can be a story of potential, opportunity and progress,” Gilligan said. “With increased reliability, efficiency and sustainability, E.U. countries will be able to power economic growth and be ready for the next generation of life-changing technology. We can do it by taking measured, affordable evolutionary steps.”
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is one of the world’s leading organizations for the advancement of technology. GE’s John McDonald, director, technical strategy & policy development—digital energy for GE Energy Services sits on the IEEE Public Visibility Committee and is one of IEEE’s smart grid industry experts. McDonald spoke at the conference as a representative for IEEE, updating attendees on IEEE’s recent smart grid activities.
GE (ge.com) is a diversified infrastructure, finance and media company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. From aircraft engines and power generation to financial services, health care solutions and television programming, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide.
GE serves the energy sector by developing and deploying technology that helps make efficient use of natural resources. With nearly 85,000 global employees and 2009 revenues of $40 billion, GE Energy (ge.com/energy) is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies. The businesses that comprise GE Energy—GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas—work together to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels.
1 International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2009
2 International Energy Agency
PRESS Contact: GE news, Masto Public Relations / E: information[.]mastopr.com.