Innovation in the Electric Energy Industry

Pedro Puente, VP Technology Development and Innovation

From the time of Thomas A. Edison and Nikola Tesla, more than 120 years ago, we hadn’t experienced such massive change in the energy industry as the one we are living today. At that time, the electric system was designed for Direct Current at a very low scale (1882), supplying power to a few users and lighting up spaces with the recently developed electric bulb; a few years later, in 1896, the Alternating Current model was presented by Westinghouse Electric (with the collaboration of inventor Nikola Tesla). This new model allows the transmission of electric power to greater distances at high efficiency levels.

It was then when the electrical power system, as we know it today, was created. It is clear that the system has been in continuous development since then.

Thanks to these developments, electricity has been made available to more people. However, even today, 16% of the world’s population, this is 1,200 million people1, has no access to electrical power.

The electric system, as we know it today, is facing a transformation. The change is happening with a constant acceleration, and eventually new system models will emerge.

This transformation is the result of different trends and needs. Here are some of the most relevant ones:

– Equipment Resiliency to natural events or intentional attacks; Geo-magnetic disturbances resulting from solar storms; Magnetic-pulse weapons or cyberattacks that can disable critical electrical installations for national security and affect the way of life to a large part of our planet.

– Energy generated by renewable sources, such as solar or wind energy, as well as a more distributed generation and micro-grids systems (like neighborhoods, universities, or small towns) that provide a better access to clean energy, but at the same time, can cause network instability because of the interconnection between large networks due to the unpredictable way in which these sources work

– Houses powered with Direct Current; A high number of modern devices are evolving and using a direct current scheme: solar generation in homes, electric vehicles, as well as many home appliances that require converters, such as TVs, computers, telephones, lighting systems, etc.

– The imperative need of protecting the environment and achieving a more responsible operation to ensure our planet’s sustainability; 100% biodegradable products that do not affect people’s health; as an example, is the extra-low noise transformers and natural ester fluids instead of traditional mineral oil.

– The connectivity of information that can be analyzed at high speed, allowing us to make smarter decisions in real time; Equipment that can make auto diagnostics and self-repair, so we can have a more efficient and reliable operation. Innovation and Technology development comes with great challenges that require talent with an entrepreneurial spirit, a high capacity to solve problems, and a great persistence to experiment and evolve quickly to find sustainable solutions. In addition to talent, another key element is the infrastructure and open work environment needed to innovate and improve technology development processes.

We are living in an era of accelerated technological progress, hyper-speed change, and great transformations in business models that had not been modified in decades.

At Prolec GE, we are enthusiastic and focused to develop new collaborative ways of working and enhancing our competence network; I am convinced that all the achievements we are having, put us is a great platform to face these challenges and to amaze the market with innovative solutions.

(1) World Energy Outlook, 2016

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