POWER-GEN Asia conference director Nigel Blackaby picks out some of the likely highlights of the upcoming POWER-GEN Asia conference on 27–29 September in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and previews some of the most enticing sessions from the Renewable Energy World Asia conference.

Nigel Blackaby, Conference Director, POWER-GEN Asia

POWER-GEN Asia and Renewable Energy World Asia conferences and exhibitions are almost upon us. Since the power industry gathered for this annual forum in Singapore last year, we have witnessed a terrible human tragedy in the region in the form of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami.

Japan is still coming to terms with the scope of the massive recovery and rebuilding programme that will be needed and, while this is indeed the most important priority, the event has had profound implications for the electricity industry both within Japan and beyond.

The reaction of some of those associated with nuclear power generation in Asia has been to hunker down and decline to comment publicly, but the conference Advisory Board for POWER-GEN Asia was not so reticent. At a meeting less than a week after earthquake and tsunami struck, its members debated the matter and concluded that power industry professionals should be discussing and debating the effect of the tragedy and the way it was handled, as well as the longer-term implications for the nuclear power sector.

The result is two special break-out panel discussion sessions on Wednesday 28 September, dedicated to covering this important topic. These two special sessions will feature a line-up of high profile and well-informed experts, who will participate in panel discussions looking, firstly, at nuclear power in Malaysia and, secondly, the public relations battle the industry needs to fight in order to improve perception to win the publics acceptance of nuclear power.

You can be sure this will be a hot debate, with strong views from both sides of the argument, plus questions taken from the floor, putting the industry firmly under the spotlight.

POWER-GEN Asia will deliver valuable insights into the power industry across one of its most dynamic markets
POWER-GEN Asia will deliver valuable insights into the power industry across one of its most dynamic markets

MEGA-TRENDS

While the nuclear debate has been turned upside down by events in Japan, other long-term trends affecting the electricity sector for the region remain unchanged. Asia is still seen as the world’s fastest growth market for new electricity infrastructure development.

In fact, Asian economies are enjoying growth rates that the West can only envy. China, despite a slackening in its GDP’s expansion, still remains the region’s powerhouse and an increasingly influential global player. In the power sector, China is firmly established as an important investor, equipment supplier and developer. With the rest of the world still recovering from the economic shocks of 2008–09, China’s ability to secure state-backed financing is giving it a further competitive advantage.

POWER-GEN Asia is examining the influence beyond their borders of both China and India, in an attempt to shed light on how these countries are shaping the power industry of Southeast Asia. This is the subject of a dedicated panel discussion rounding off Strategic Track One. The panellists taking part have first-hand experience in China and India and can therefore offer reliable opinions about the ‘quality’ issue and the likely appetite for further expansion in the future.

The influence of these BRIC counties in the power sector is undoubtedly growing – and anyone who chooses to overlook this trend may later come to regret it.

But, aside from the activities of China and India, POWER-GEN Asia will be exploring several other drivers at play across Asia. A double session looking at mega-trends in the industry, including developments in financing, corporate activity, fuels and technology will feature both presentations and a panel discussion. A line-up of speakers that brings together key industry figures from IHS CERA, Edison Electric Institute, GE Energy and Standard Chartered Bank make this an enticing session.

The panel discussion that closes the second day of POWER-GEN Asia and which straddles both Tracks One and Two is also worth a mention. The topic is ‘Power Project Financing’ and the line-up of panellists includes representatives from HSBC Bank, Overseas Private Finance Corporation and Hong-Kong based CLP Group.

One dominant, long-running and ever-increasing trend is the need to develop low carbon solutions for our energy needs. This driver impacts on every aspect of the industry, and almost every country and power generation asset holder is now exploring technologies that can de-carbonize their generation portfolios.

Solutions vary enormously in their cost of implementation and the stage of their development. They range from commercially competitive nuclear power and combined-cycle gas plants through to viable existing technologies such as wind and hydropower, as well as technologies requiring support such as solar and carbon capture and storage. Other developments that focus on energy efficiency – such as Smart Grids and electric vehicles – will also have a significant impact on business power production and delivery, as will energy storage techniques that are being developed.

GREEN SOLUTIONS

Many of these key topics will come under the microscope at POWER-GEN Asia and at the co-located Renewable Energy World Asia (REWA) conference. All delegates will be able to access conference sessions across both conferences.

The demand for a power industry event that combines the conventional power sector with the green energy market reflects the increasing integration that is occurring in the power industry. But for those who have a particular interest in or thirst for knowledge about the prospects for renewable energy in Asia and the technologies available, the two tracks offered by REWA are invaluable.

An opening plenary session will examine the position of the large state controlled regional utility companies when it comes to renewables and what progress they are making towards meeting their ambitious national green energy goals. This session will be followed by one devoted to an understanding of the regulatory regimes that should be encouraging sustainable power generation, but in some cases are acting as a constraint.

The REWA programme maintains its plenary format with a session devoted to renewable finance and then a panel discussion on carbon markets post Kyoto, which picks up on the theme developed in the previous session and includes an examination of the outlook for CDM-supported projects and the role of tradable renewable energy certificates.

Recognizing the role that hydropower plays in parts of Malaysia and elsewhere in the region, the REWA programme features three fascinating sessions that will, between them, offer a great insight into the strategic and technical issues for this specialist part of the industry, including case studies presented by the industry’s leading companies.

The sessions will also cover small-scale hydropower, which is often the preferred generation option in remote Southeast Asian locations. Another session looks at alternative small-scale renewables options and how micro-grids can be most effectively used.

TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS

In a programme featuring more than 30 conference sessions, it is an unenviable task to pick out specific highlights among the technical sessions. In fact, it is a feature of all POWER-GEN events that they offer the latest information and technical know-how across all aspects of power generation plant operation, planning and construction. At POWER-GEN Asia delegates will find niche sessions on everything from boiler technologies to water treatment, large gas turbines to oils and lubricants, and carbon capture and storage to diagnostics and condition monitoring.

However, since it is a first at POWER-GEN Asia, I cannot overlook mentioning the two Large Gas Turbine sessions in Track 3. As usual, we have presentations from the major international manufacturers about their latest technical advances, which this year are quite notable. But, for the first time, it is planned that the four participants will join in a panel discussion, during which the manufacturers will compare and contrast technologies and share their views on how gas turbines can play an increasingly important role in the energy mix.

No doubt the panellists in the gas turbine session will point to flexibility as being a key benefit of employing this type of technology. Indeed, the need to deliver flexible power generation is, without question, uppermost in the minds of power system planners, looking to manage increasing amounts of intermittent power generation. Aeroderivative gas turbines are one solution to this but there are others, and this issue will be explored through for presentations in the Track 2 session, Flexible Power Generation – again one not to be missed.

The Tuanku Ja’afar Power Station, Port Dickson, which will feature in a technical tour on 26 September on the eve of POWER-GEN Asia 2011 Source: Tenaga Nasional Berhad
The Tuanku Ja’afar Power Station, Port Dickson, which will feature in a technical tour on 26 September on the eve of POWER-GEN Asia 2011
Source: Tenaga Nasional Berhad

BROADCAST OPENING

The combined POWER-GEN Asia and REWA event begins with a joint Keynote Session at 9am on Tuesday 27 September, featuring presentations from three heavyweights in the Asian energy industry, culminating in a panel discussion moderated by CNBC Asia’s Energy anchor, Sri Jegarajah, which will be filmed for broadcast.

He will be putting questions to the secretary-general, Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water from Malaysia, Y.Bhg. Datuk Loo Took Gee; the chief operating officer of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Dato’ Ir. Azman Bin Mohd; and the senior vice-president and board member of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Yoshiaki Tsukuda.

Before that, delegates can expect to be brought right up to date with Malaysia’s policies and strategies for the power sector and how it is faring in meeting its goals. Mr Tsukuda has promised to share MHI‘s vision of the economic and energy outlook for the ASEAN region, focusing on fuel costs and environmental considerations. He will offer opinions as to what is the most effective way to utilize fossil fuels and illuminate the prospects for renewable energy technologies in order to minimize CO2 emissions.

One of the most rewarding aspects of POWER-GEN Asia and Renewable Energy World Asia is the extent to which the event is supported by the host country’s most important government bodies. Malaysia is a perfect example of this with Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Sarawak Energy Berhad, and Sabah Electricity giving their backing and contributing to the conference programme.

The Malaysian Ministry of Energy, Green Technology & Water (KeTTHA) is also endorsing both events. Both KeTTHA and TNB feature in the keynote opening referred to above. In addition, the CEO of Sarawak Energy will be leading off the conference with a spotlight presentation on the power sector in the State of Sarawak in which he will be sharing information about its coal and gas generation as well as the major new hydropower project under construction.

More than 200 industry professionals will be speaking at this year’s POWER-GEN Asia and Renewable Energy World Asia in Kuala Lumpur, each with their own particular area of expertise and each looking forward to sharing their knowledge and ideas.

The combined event is expected to attract more than 5000 attendees to the conferences and/or the exhibitions. This represents a great learning opportunity for the power industry in the region, as well as an opportunity to network in an environment that is ideal for developing business contacts.

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