Industry Highlights

Research reports on the various sectors of the power market are ten-a-penny, but what nearly all of them share – regardless of what technology they are reporting on – is that, at some point in their findings, they will state that Asia is driving growth in that particular technology.

In the last few weeks I have read such reports on the markets for renewables (solar in particular), smart city technology, smart grid, diesel gensets – the list goes on.

All of which is good news for Asia, its power sector and those companies working in it and looking to break into it – because the potential rewards are colossal.

One of the aforementioned reports – from Bloomberg New Energy Finance – predicts that the Asia-Pacific region will spend $3.6 trillion between now and 2030 to meet its power demands (see story on p4).

This opens the door to many European companies: business goes where business is, and there is precious little of it to be had in many parts of Europe these days.

Jonathan Robinson, senior energy consultant at Frost & Sullivan, highlighted the attraction of Asia to European engineering companies – and vice versa – when he spoke about how German technological know-how is set to prove vital to China as it tackles its carbon emissions.

“Germany is a global leader in environmental technologies, thanks to years of tough regulations and attractive incentives for alternative energy solutions.” He added that Germany is “China’s largest trading partner in Europe and China is Germany’s in the Asia-Pacific region, so both countries already understand what each can offer”(story p8).

One such German firm targeting Asia – in particular Southeast Asia – is MAN Diesel & Turbo, which sees huge potential in the region for its gas engines. Yet the company has far from written off its home territory for new business. Embracing the new European power need for flexibility, it believes it has the technology to drive the next evolution of the gas market. Find out what it is in my interview with the company’s vice president of power plants, Howard Barnes, on p28.

And there is no doubt that a power evolution is needed in Europe. At a press conference I attended in London recently, Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, stated that the European thermal power market was “almost uninvestable”.

Birol was speaking at a conference examining the UK sector and he said that the British government’s Electricity Market Reform package was “moving in the right direction and is an example to many other countries”.

Part of that reform package is the introduction of a capacity mechanism and contracts for difference – a guaranteed price paid to energy firms for the electricity they generate – and both of these measures cleared EU State Aid rules in July.

This is good news in a broad sense, but just how good depends on which sector you work in. One market that feels like it has dropped off the government’s radar is pumped storage. Quarry Battery Company is a UK firm that turns abandoned quarries and mines into energy storage facilities. In this issue, its managing director Dave Holmes writes that “the provision of more grid-scale storage to partner renewables has been notably absent from British government action.”

In his article on p60 – part of a new series we are running called Power Perspectives – he urges the government to “secure Britain’s energy future by backing storage in a way that their predecessors had neither the foresight nor the courage to do”.

There is certainly no lack of foresight and courage in Asia. It has become the go-to power sector because it is the get-on-with-it region. And this sets the scene for lively, relevant debate at this year’s POWER-GEN Asia, being held in Kuala Lumpur from 10-12 September (register at

With debates on topics such as flexible generation, emissions control, smart and micro grids and sustainable power growth – as well as technical sessions on the latest developments in gas and steam turbines, boilers, generators and control systems, plus many more – it is sure to be an indicator not just of how far the region has come in developing its energy mix, and also how far it is prepared to go. I’ll be there in Kuala Lumpur and I hope to see you there too.

Kelvin Ross à‚  Kelvin Ross
Follow me: @kelvinross68

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