GE is moving to acquire Ireland-based FMC-Tech, a leading provider of real-time power line monitoring, to accelerate the commercialisation of power grid technology. FMC-Tech is one of a dozen investments resulting from GE’s self imposed ‘Ecomagination’ target ‘Powering the Grid’ which was announced in July last year. This was a $200 million 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 exploit 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 optimizing 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.”

The kind of solutions marketed by FMC-Tech are a major component of a utility’s distribution automation system that provides information on locating faults, providing dynamic line ratings and helping to 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 will become part of GE Energy Services’ Digital Energy Smart Substation business. All employees will remain in Shannon, Ireland. The acquisition is expected to be completed in July.