GE buys Irish smartgrid software firm FMC-Tech

24 May 2011

The world’s second-largest company, US$150bn a year revenue General Electric (GE), has acquired Irish smart-grid technology company FMC-Tech for an undisclosed sum.

FMC-Tech was one of the dozen investments resulting from GE’s 2010 Ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid. FMC-Tech, which is headquartered in Shannon, Co Clare, has developed an intelligent network monitoring system for the utilities network.

A year ago, GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt announced GE’s Ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid, a US$200m open innovation challenge to find and fund the best ideas for bringing the power grid into the 21st century.

Co-funded by four venture capital firms, the challenge aims to leverage GE’s scale, technical expertise and client relationships to bring new ideas to market quickly.

“With the acquisition of FMC Tech’s portfolio, GE will be able to provide a new level of grid intelligence to utilities, improving decision-making and streamlining operations with real-time information on power outages and available capacity on power lines,” said Bob Gilligan, CEO – digital energy for GE Energy Services.

“Utility operators can better balance the load by managing capacity and optimising the amount of power sent through a line. Maintenance and repair crews can be more effectively dispatched for increased productivity, improved reliability and greater customer satisfaction.”

GE’s acquisition of FMC-Tech to drive faster technology deployment

FMC-Tech solutions are a key component of a utility’s distribution automation system that provide information on locating faults, providing dynamic line ratings and helping manage maintenance and repair crews.

The system is designed to easily integrate with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), energy management systems (EMS) and demand management systems (DMS)/outage management systems (OMS).

“FMC-Tech’s expertise in online power management and fault detection combined with GE’s distribution management expertise will drive faster technology development, implementation and broader-based solutions, which will enable a broader portfolio of utility management solutions,” said Gilligan.

FMC-Tech will become part of GE Energy Services’ Digital Energy Smart Substation business, led by Juan Macias. All employees will remain in Shannon, Ireland.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in July.

Ecomagination is GE’s business strategy to help meet customers’ demand for products that improve their bottom lines and reduces their impact on the environment. This also will drive growth for GE that delivers for its investors.

From 2010 to 2015, GE has committed to doubling R&D to US$10bn; growing ecomagination revenues twice as fast as overall company revenue; reducing GE’s energy intensity 50pc and reducing water consumption 25pc.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years