Nearly half the power industry players at Europe’s largest energy event believe that the best opportunities for the European sector will come from foreign markets.

Some 48 per cent of delegates at POWER-GEN Europe and its co-located conferences, Renewable Energy World Europe and Nuclear Power Europe, said that markets outside Europe would have the best potential in the next five years.

Around 34 per cent felt the best opportunities would arise in power plant modernisation and refurbishment in Western Europe, while only 18 per cent thought those opportunities would come from new plant construction in Western Europe.

“Europe’s economic woes and policy uncertainty are combining to drain confidence in new power development in Europe and the message is that Europe’s power engineers will have to compete further afield to fill order books in the coming years,” said conference director Nigel Blackaby.

The survey was designed to quantify delegates’ views on some of the key issues affecting the industry in 2012.  One of the most divisive topics covered at this year’s conference was Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ which caused heated debate at the Joint Plenary Session. Delegates were similarly split. Just over half (52 per cent) of those polled believe that Germany has made the wrong decision to phase out all of its nuclear power generation by 2022, compared to 34 per cent who felt it was the right  decision. A further 14 per cent felt it was too early to say.

The survey also asked whether the EU will meet its self-imposed target of having renewable resources account for 20 per cent of total energy consumption by 2022, a question that also divided the industry: 43 per cent expected the EU to meet its target but 38 per cent predicted it would fail, with a further 19 per cent feeling that it was still too early to tell.

“POWER-GEN Europe attracts some of the best and brightest professionals in the industry and this survey is a fantastic opportunity to gauge the mood of the industry and identify burgeoning trends that will come to define Europe’s future,” said Blackaby.

“Our strategic conference tracks were particularly well attended this year and we will continue to support demand for this aspect of the conference by offering a greater selection of strategic topics in Vienna next year.”

The delegates questioned for the survey consisted primarily of engineers and senior managers representing construction, electric utility and power generation companies, equipment and service suppliers, consultancies, universities and research centres.