Clean Power

Published on October 9th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


GE Boosting Wind Turbine Output Up To 5% With PowerUp, Industrial Internet Technology

October 9th, 2013 by  

GE this morning released an announcement regarding new wind turbine technology that can boost wind turbine technology by up to 5%, which equals a whopping 20% or so more profit per wind turbine. (Full disclosure: GE funded and organized my trip to Chicago in order to cover the GE Minds + Machines 2013 conference in which this was announced.)

PowerUp is the new “Industrial Internet” technology that makes this considerable output improvement possible. It is a customized software-enabled platform available for all of GE’s wind turbine models.

This announcement was actually one of 14 new industrial internet predictivity technologies launched by GE today, following up on the first 10 that it launched last year. As Chris Varrone wrote back in 2011, “GE wants to sell you everything.” In terms of revenue, GE is the 25th-largest company in the world. In the energy industry, it is involved in the use of nearly every type of energy resource, and some of the predictivity technologies announced today were for oil, some were for natural gas, and some were for wind power. Beyond energy, the technologies are for aviation, healthcare, and more. In the end, the goal for all of them is better efficiency and better economics.

Sticking to our beat, I’ll get back to the wind turbine announcement. As noted above, the new wind turbine predictive technology can boost output by up to 5% (initially). That is for GE’s 1.5-77 turbine. 5% may not sound huge to you, but that’s actually a very considerable increase, especially when you consider how many of these turbines are out there. GE writes:

“To put things in perspective, today our customers have more than 9,000 GE 1.5-77 turbines running in the United States. Even a 1 percent energy output increase on this installed base would generate more than 420,000 megawatt hours of additional energy each year, which would provide the equivalent power used by 33,000 average U.S. homes.” That’s just 1%! 5% would mean enough power for an additional 165,000 average homes, simply thanks to the output boost provided by this Industrial Internet technology. Following the lego-like GIF below, I’ll share more information on what exactly PowerUp does.


PowerUp adjusts, in real-time performance, wind turbine factors such as speed, torque, pitch, aerodynamics, and turbine controls. The GE software program also “performs a complete before-and-after wind farm power performance analysis, validating the performance improvement,” GE adds. And that’s a critical component of it all — analyzing the results (quickly), and using the data to improve technologies or business processes.

For more details on what PowerUp helps with, here’s a useful snapshot from a fact sheet GE sent me:

GE PowerUp


If there is one single message being presented today, it is the tremendous investment GE and partners are putting into developing an Industrial Internet that will transform not only future technologies but also every aspect of the businesses that use those technologies.

Interestingly, wind farm operators only need to pay for PowerUp if it really boosts performance. “PowerUp is a flexible, outcome-based, commercial offering (OPEX, CAPEX) that allows wind farm operators to pay only for validated performance improvements.”

Wind farm operators with PowerUp will continuously receive hardware and software updates. And, if you haven’t guessed it by now, PowerUp is now offered up as part of GE’s “Brilliant wind turbine” platform. We’ve covered the Brilliant wind turbine a few times, including some exclusive coverage, but GE offers a useful, quick summary of the platform if you need caught up on this: The GE Brilliant wind turbine “harnesses the power of the Industrial Internet to analyze tens of thousands of data points on a wind farm every second, driving higher power output and creating new revenue streams for customers,” GE notes. “It is an ecomagination qualified product.”

For more background on the GE Brilliant turbine, check out:

  1. How Smart Is GE’s “Brilliant” New Wind Turbine?
  2. GE’s Brilliant Wind Turbine — Wind Power Cheaper Than Coal Or Natural Gas (Part 1)
  3. GE’s Brilliant Wind Turbine — Wind Power Cheaper Than Coal Or Natural Gas (Part 2)
  4. GE’s Brilliant Wind Turbine — Wind Power Cheaper Than Coal Or Natural Gas (Part 3)
  5. Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Production Tax Credit For Wind Power?
  6. GE’s “Brilliant” Wind Turbine Revs Up In Netherlands
  7. GE Brilliant Wind Turbines Heading Down Under As Part Of $350MM Boco Wind Farm Project

For more news and exclusive interviews, videos, and commentary from today’s event, stay tuned to CleanTechnica.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Joshua Van Camp

    “Doesn’t change much and certainly doesn’t change this from National Academy of Sciences:

    “The reduction in CO2 emissions associated with the [wind] PTC/ITC is, however, small, amounting to about 0.3 percent of CO2 emissions from the energy sector in the Reference scenario. If the revenue lost as a result of the PTC/ITC is divided by the reduction in CO2 emissions, just under $250 in revenues are lost per ton of CO2
    reduced. While this does not represent the social cost of reducing the ton of CO2
    emissions …. the fiscal cost per ton of CO2 reduced is high relative to other, more efficient approaches.””

    • Brian Setzler

      I know this is an old comment, but I just came across the article and want to clarify a few things.

      1) 0.3% is a typo in the report. If you look at their numbers, you see it’s actually about 0.7% of power sector CO2 emissions.
      2) That number is averaged over 2015-2035, but obviously the CO2 savings grow over time as more investments are made. So in 2035, the reduction is about 2%.
      3) The 2% reduction in 2035 is not the total contribution from renewables, but the contribution from only the renewables that wouldn’t have been built without the tax credit.
      4) The savings from the PTC/ITC are reduced because of renewable portfolio standards. In states where renewables are already mandated by law, the tax credit is redundant. If the RPS wasn’t in effect though, the PTC/ITC would have about double the effect.
      5) The average retail cost of electricity is projected to be 0.2 cents / kWh lower in 2035 due to the PTC/ITC. This falls into the “While this does not represent the social cost…” category.
      6) The PTC/ITC applies to rooftop and utility solar as well, The subsidy for rooftop solar is larger than for wind because the the higher costs of rooftop solar. So were the analysis restricted to wind only, the cost would be lower.
      7) This is the big one! The ITC is an upfront credit, and the PTC only applies for ten years. But renewables generate electricity for decades. The report calculates $250 / ton by dividing the cost of the ITC/PTC through 2035 with the emission reductions through 2035. But nearly all of the renewables subsidized over that period will continue to generate after 2035, further reducing emissions! In fact, I’d bet that the majority of their emissions reductions will occur after 2035. That’s actually just bad methodology I think.

      I still agree that there are more efficient ways to reduce CO2 emissions. The ITC/PTC reduce the cost of clean energy instead of increasing the cost of dirty energy, so they actually encourage us to consume slightly more. They also do nothing to address the position of gas vs coal or efficient vs inefficient plants. Clearly a carbon tax would be more effective and more efficient. But the PTC/ITC is not nearly as costly as that report implies.

  • JamesWimberley

    It´s particularly good that the kit is apparently available as a retrofit, with a presumably enormous ROI.

    GE coined the ¨Industrial Internet¨ term, but can´t claim the concept, part of the ¨Internet of Things.¨ Both depend on pervasive low-level computing power in microcontrollers harnessed to sensors.

    ARM of Cambridge, England, is the leading designer of the cheap, power-stingy processor cores inside these. It has licensed >41 billion copies to date of its various core designs, of which the majority are embedded in gadgets of all kinds. You find their processors inside PV inverters and intelligent thermostats like NEST.

Back to Top ↑