EU power sector not quite the GE canteen but wind chiefs under no illusions

diarmaid williams 80x100

Joking with one of the GE Power and Water Renewable Energy team at the European Wind Energy Association event in Barcelona this week, I asked her if those on the conventional power side and those on her own unit sat at opposite ends of the GE HQ canteen in Schenctady, New York. Her answer reinforced a consensus I hear a lot in energy sectors.

She reassured me that there was a collegiate atmosphere, with no them and us mentality. In fact many of the people involved had served on both the renewables and fossil fuel power businesses. Somewhat disappointed that the air in that part of upstate New York wasn’t thick with intrigue inspired by never the twain-like competitive world views, I expressed my surprise.

EWEA Chief Executive Andrew Garrad in Barcelona this week
She was quick to tell me something that somewhat explained the fraternal nature of the company’s inter-departmental relations, something easily forgotten amid the propaganda and politicking that confuses the overall power generation picture at times; “We are going to need all power sources to play a part, it’s not just any one technology,” she said.

Europe’s wind energy officials in Spain this week weren’t quite so generous about the other power generators outside their own orbit, but there was realism evident in key note speeches and debates about wind technology’s limitations and what it needed to do in order to be fully credible as a means of driving Europe’s economy and energy future.

The EWEA’S Poul La Cour prize-winner for 2014, Eddie O’Connor, placed emphasis on the fact that without greater lobbying for an expansion of the bloc’s interconnection capacity, the sector’s progress in Europe is going to be severely handicapped. He added that “by and large most states in Europe have insufficient interconnection.”

The Mainstream Renewables chief prioritised that problem far ahead of the cost reduction factor, something that has divided minds in the industry.

A view among speakers and delegates alike at the conference was that conventional power’s proponents had completely overplayed the issue of supports given to renewables, and there was anger at the extent of subsidies being provided globally to fossil fuels (as well as the situation with UK nuclear), which the wind lobby feels is being unfairly overlooked.

They have a point. A recent IEA study showed that fossil fuel subsidies reached $90bn in the OECD and over $500bn globally in 2011. Renewable energy subsidies reached $88bn in the same year.

However pragmatic minds at the top of the European wind energy scene can see the folly of getting too involved in the comparison game and they understand that the industry has plenty to do to remove the cost equation from the argument.

Iberdrola (BMAD: IBE) renewables chief executive Xabier Viteri told delegates with regard to offshore wind power in particular, “My perception is that if we are not able to achieve a big cost reduction, the industry isn’t going to run beyond 2020.”

Eddie O’Connor also noted that the industry needed to up its game in the area of storage, telling the audience that, “We will lose our (renewable energy) lead in Europe if we don’t realise we have a variable source of supply. Look at California where we see 1300 MW of utility grid battery storage is targeted to be installed by 2020.”

The EU wind sector is unsurprisingly not quite in the same space you’ll find at GE HQ. But it’s good to know that, despite its collective repugnance towards coal power’s resurgence in particular, the industry isn’t being distracted by the maddeningly inconsistent energy policies emanating from Brussels, Berlin and London.

It realises that without a focus on interconnection, costs and storage it will find it difficult to win the argument.

By putting more resources into those areas instead of just reacting angrily to perceived injustices inflicted by policymakers, European wind can work more productively to seize its potential and play its part alongside all the others in ensuring an energy-confident Eurozone.

Incidentally, if there was such a thing as a canteen for Europe’s various power generators, would the wind sector only visualise one it has to share happily with other renewables, with gas or coal sectors operating, under their frosty stares, as temps?

Wind’s leadership in Europe might ultimately aspire to such a scenario but are under no illusions about the difficult path ahead to achieve it.

Follow Power Engineering International on Twitter




Editor's Picks
GE Propak

Helping power plants meet the challenge of water preservation

By 2035, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 35 per cent, which in turn will increase water use by 15 per cent...
AFDB

AfDB says western nations ‘hypocritical’ in decision to rule out funding coal power

The head of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) is defending his decision to continue financing coal-fired power plants,...
Klaus Schafer

Biggest ever annual loss confirmed at E.ON

Germany’s largest utility, E.ON, has announced its biggest ever annual loss, yet its chief financial officer says the comp...
European Court of Justice

Luxembourg confirms opposition to Hinkley Point nuclear power plant deal

Luxembourg has confirmed that it will back Austria in filing a lawsuit against the European Commission for the decision to...
Peter Polak

Top Austrian lawyer says Commission unlikely to be challenged on UK nuclear power project

One of Austria’s foremost legal experts in the field of energy believes Vienna will not go through with its proposed legal...

PEI Magazine Issues



>> Current Issue           >> Past Issues

Latest Wire News

Blue Dolphin Announces Improved Full Year 2014 Financial Results

Blue Dolphin Announces Improved Full Year 2014 Financial Results

Magnum Hunter Resources Declares Monthly Cash Dividend on Series C Preferred Stock, Series D Preferred Stock and Series E Preferred Stock

Magnum Hunter Resources Declares Monthly Cash Dividend on Series C Preferred Stock, Series D...

Totally Green Reports 2014 Full Year Results

Totally Green Reports 2014 Full Year Results

OKI Data Americas Introduces the MC873dn -- a New Smart, Compact, Wide Format A3 Color Multifunction Device for Small to Mid-Sized Workgroups

OKI Data Americas Introduces the MC873dn -- a New Smart, Compact, Wide Format A3 Color Multi...

Vega Biofuels Sets Date for Shareholder Conference Call

Vega Biofuels Sets Date for Shareholder Conference Call


Editorial Guides

Lubrication Challenges for the Biogas Industry in 2015

The biogas industry is growing in importance as the world continues to look for alternative, clean energy sources. However...

How to cut your OPEX

How to cut your OPEX In a constantly evolving electricity market, factors such as over capacity and low coal costs can pu...

Alstom Editorial Guide: Thailand to showcase latest upgrade of Alstom's GT26 in combined-cycle

Read all about Alstom's new advanced GT26 gas turbine in the North Bangkok CCPP expansion project online with the Power En...

PLEXOS® Integrated Energy Model – Leading the Field in Energy Market Modelling

PLEXOS® Integrated Energy Modelling is an advanced software tool that employs the latest mathematical programming methods ...

Buyers Guide Companies

ComRent International LLC

Offers rentals, sales, and services of load banks for testing generators...

Advanced Energy

Advanced Energy is a global leader in innovative power and control techn...

Fluid Energy Controls Inc

ACOEM AB

ACOEM is a supplier of Fixturlaser's innovative and user-friendly equipm...

CCI Thermal Technologies Inc

A leader in the development and manufacturing of industrial heating and ...

AKG of America Inc

AKG is a worldwide design leader and manufacturer of high performance co...

Acromag Inc

CU Services LLC

Manufactures plug resistant orifices for steam line drains, recirculatio...

FLSmidth Inc

Designs and supplies pneumatic conveying systems for power, cement, and ...

Frenzelit North America Inc

Frenzelit manufactures fabric, rubber, and metallic expansion joints. F...

Buyers Guide Products

Bore Measurement

Typical applications are full bore measure...

Fixturlaser NXA Pro

This laser alignment system features many ...

RETROFIT

Braden's retrofit strengths are divided in...

Air Filtration

Braden filtration offers a wide range of f...

Expansion Joints

Braden Exhaust Expansion Joints provide a ...

PARTS & FILTERS

Braden is uniquely qualified to provide ou...

Exhaust Systems

Leader in Exhaust Bypass, Simple Cycle, Ex...

HydroJet®-Retractable Boiler Cleaning System

A major breakthrough in furnace water clea...

IK-700® - Retractable Sootblower

Designed specifically for low maintenance,...

Spare parts manufacturing / Re-engineering / CNC / CMM / Machining / workshop service

CMM/laser scanning technology (workshop, r...

Power Engineering International

Whitepapers

Understanding Moisture Dynamics in Power Transformers

In this webinar recording "Moisture Dynamics in Power Transformers" (held originally in September 23, 2014) you will have a chance to learn about the phenomena and its importance to your ...

How to lower your total cost of ownership on DC Control Power

In this whitepaper, we look at implementing battery management solutions and how smart battery management effectively lowers the total cost of DC Control power systems and the risk of their failure...

Portfolio Optimization by PLEXOS

To achieve Portfolio Optimization, PLEXOS performs the Security Constrained Unit Commitment and Economic Dispatch using Mixed Integer Programming (MIP) to minimize a cost function subject to all op...

Evaluating cogeneration for your facility: A look at the potential energy-efficiency, economic and environmental benefits

The energy-efficiency, economic and environmental benefits of cogeneration are the subject of this in-depth white paper. The paper argues that producing electricity and heat/cooling from the same f...

The Effect of Moisture on the Breakdown Voltage of Transformer Oil

Power transformers utilize oil as a heat transfer medium and a dielectric material, together with cellulose. Breakdown voltage (dielectric strength) is one of the most important parameters of trans...

Improving Mission Critical Cooling Systems With More Reliable Level Sensing

The choice of coolant level sensor may seem like an insignificant detail when designing complex machinery such as emergency generators and cranes, but if this sensor fails, the operator has no warn...

Steps Towards a Low Carbon Future: Solutions and Technologies That Will Support the Global Revolution Required

A smart grid is becoming more and more essential as clean energy becomes more dominant. In addition, the demand for electricity is expected to treble the ability to supply it over the next decade. ...

Latest Digital Edition

  Power
  Engineering
  International
Look Inside >
Cover
Current Issue

Article Archives for Power Engineering International Magazine

Latest Energy Jobs

View more Job Listings >>