GE Unveils Net Zero Energy Home Project
GE today unveiled plans for a “Net Zero Energy Home” project which combines GE's most efficient appliances and lighting, the company's new energy management systems, and GE power generating and storing technologies in new home construction. When applied together, the system would enable a homeowner to achieve net zero energy costs by 2015. The Net Zero Energy Home project -- and new smart grid consumer poll data from the U.S. and the U.K. -- were introduced at GE's smart grid symposium at its Global Research Center in upstate New York.
As part of the company’s ecomagination strategy, the GE Net Zero Energy Home offerings will be comprised of three major groups within the product portfolio: energy efficient products including appliance and lighting products that will reduce energy consumption in the home; energy management products that will enable consumers to manage their costs and energy consumption; and energy generation/storage products like solar PV, advanced energy storage and next generation thin film solar that will play an integral part in the net zero energy home.
“Much of today’s electrical grid dates back to the days of our founder Thomas Edison," explained Mark Little, senior vice president and director, GE Global Research. "And while that grid has served us well for decades, we recognize that by investing in technologies to transform the current electrical infrastructure, GE will be able to provide powerful solutions for customers around the world for the next 100 years. We’re working with our utility and government partners to deploy energy-efficient technologies today, in a way that will empower consumers without compromising their lifestyle.”
One new product that will give consumers more control will be available as early as 2010, when GE will introduce the Home Energy Manager, the central nervous system for the Net Zero Energy Home that will work in conjunction with all the other enabling technologies in the home to help homeowners optimize how they consume energy. GE will also introduce a line of smart thermostats in 2010 that, together with the Home Energy Manager, will inform consumers on their energy use and empower them to make smarter decisions on their energy consumption. The smart thermostats can help consumers significantly save on their energy bills.
“GE is bringing together the power of its diverse businesses to offer one of the broadest Smart Grid portfolios in the market, ranging from wind turbines to smart appliances and the intelligence to optimize how all the enabling technologies function in harmony,” said Steve Fludder, vice president of ecomagination. “This systems integration and these new partnerships show that we’re committed to providing a wide range of products and solutions to make smart grid a reality today.”
Study Reveals U.S. and U.K. Consumers Want More Control
The Net Zero Energy Home announcement comes as a new GE/Ipsos poll  gauging existing U.S. and U.K. consumer awareness and comprehension of smart grid found that three out of five people in both countries would change their electricity consumption behavior around smart grid adoption. Two thirds in both countries would monitor their energy usage online at least once a week. GE’s plans to be the first manufacturer to offer a full suite of demand response appliances that work with smart meters would give consumers more control over their energy use without major interruption to their lifestyles.
Additionally, 73 percent of U.S. and U.K. respondents are interested in the pricing structure behind electricity bills and how smart grid could affect those bills, with half of respondents in the U.S. and over one third in the U.K. willing to pay an increased monthly rate for smart grid technology if there was a corresponding reduction in overall energy costs by 15 percent.
Customers Worldwide Adopting GE Smart Grid Technologies
GE also announced that three new customers are in the process of implementing its smart grid technologies in projects around the world:
- In partnership with the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), Maui Electric Company (MECO), the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) of the University of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy, GE has formally launched the Maui Smart Grid project which will develop and demonstrate the use of smart grid technologies to help Maui Electric Company control peak circuit demand, maintain adequate circuit voltage levels, and integrate intermittent renewable energy resources.
- Eka Chemicals Plant in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Canada, will be the first to demonstrate GE’s new smart grid asset optimization solution to help reduce transformer-caused downtime in the plant. This first collaborative effort demonstrating GE’s new smart grid Asset Optimization service offering will illustrate how utilities and industrial sites can improve productivity, maximize transformer performance and extend asset life through status-based maintenance and upgrades.
- Orion New Zealand Limited completed implementation of the first phase of a sophisticated network management system based on GE smart grid technologies to help improve power reliability for customers. The system of smart grid technologies will significantly improve the network company’s ability to manage big network emergencies and help it to restore power faster when outages occur.
"By giving people real choice in how they spend – and save – their energy dollars, we move them to a new level of energy awareness,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president, transmission and distribution at GE Energy. “In addition to empowering consumers, we are also collaborating with utility customers globally to improve productivity and efficiency up and down the power lines, increasing power reliability, lowering emissions, and integrating more clean, renewable energy.”
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