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Putting data centers on turbines to save billions of dollars

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GE’s Bill Ruh has a message for anyone who’s confused or skeptical about the company’s new focus on the “industrial internet.” The long story made short is that the amount of data being generated by industrial machines “is going to surpass anything you’ve ever seen,” and analyzing this data is going to make everyone’s lives easier.

Take gas turbines at power plants, for example. “We’re almost putting a data center on a gas turbine,” Ruh said during a session at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference on Wednesday morning, referencing the hundreds of sensors the company is placing on those machines to capture data. If those sensors, combined with GE’s (or anyone’s) software for managing and analyzing the data, is able to improve efficiency by just 1 percent, that could save nearly $6 billion a year.

Or think about air travel. Forty-one percent of unplanned downtime for airlines is caused by mechanical errors, Ruh explained, so GE wants to be able to predict when its engines or other airline systems will fail. With this knowledge, carriers can fix problems during scheduled downtime and save everyone precious time.

Speaking of jet engines, Ruh noted just how much potentially predictive data they’re generating. If someone captured everything coming off of a jet engine, he said, “We’re talking several hundred terabytes a day.”

However, he acknowledged, the macro effects of the industrial internet — cost savings, carbon-footprint reductions and efficiency gains — will come with shifts in the employment sector that might not be good for everyone involved. “There will be new kinds of jobs that get created that don’t exist today,” Ruh said. But, he added, “Some things people used to do will be done more efficiently through these machines.”

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:
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A transcription of the video follows on the next page

One Response to “Putting data centers on turbines to save billions of dollars”

  1. John Robinson

    . Let’s examine the new math of the Renewable Energy Robber Baron crowd who have taken upon themselves to protect us from the “projected” end of civilization as we know it. Welcome to the Cape Wind Project.
    Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound has been approved. The project will cost $2.6 BILLON, and it has secured funding for $2 BILLON of that from a Japanese bank. But this is believed to be subject to the project gaining a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy. The contracted cost of the wind farm’s energy will be 23 cents a kilowatt hour (excluding tax credits, which are unlikely to last the length of the project), which is more than 50% higher than current average electricity prices in Massachusetts. The Bay State is already the 4th most expensive state for electricity in the nation. Even if the tax credits are preserved, $940 million of the $1.6 billion contract represents costs above projections for the likely market price of conventional power. Moreover, these costs are just the initial costs they are scheduled to rise by 3.5 percent annually for 15 years.
    This project is rated at 468 MW and will produce 143 MW after applying a Capacity Factor of 30.4 % the time the wind actually blows. Life cycle is 20 years therefore this project will produce 24.6 Gigawatts life cycle.
    A Combined Cycle Natural Gas Turbine plant studied by the DOE completed in 2010 is rated at 570 MW and produces 470 MW, capacity factor 85%. Cost $311 MILLION. Life cycle 35 years therefore this plant will produce 133 Gigawatts life cycle.
    The math Cost / (Baseplate MW X Capacity Factor X 8760 (annual hours) X Life Cycle (years)