Europe, king of energy diversification

The European electricity sector continues to be one of the most dynamic power sectors in the world as the region tries to balance cutting greenhouse gases and improving energy efficiency with guarding their security of supply.

In particular, the European Union (EU) member states are busy striving to meet the now infamous 20:20:20 target. Many of the world’s other electricity sectors are keeping a close eye on how Europe is faring as they are either facing or will be in the very near future the very same issues.

Within the last 12-18 months alone we have seen Sweden, Italy and Belgium lift their moratorium on nuclear power, with Germany potentially having to reverse its nuclear phase-out programme too in the not too distant future. The UK appears to be leading the new nuclear charge, with the government naming ten sites for nuclear new build, and EDF and Horizon, the RWE/E.ON joint venture, announcing their intentions to build new nuclear power plants in Britain.

Renewable energy development in Europe, despite the economic downturn, continues to fare well. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, more new wind power capacity was installed in the EU in 2009 than any other electricity-generating technology. Furthermore, Germany’s first large-scale offshore wind farm, Alpha Ventus, began operation at the end of last year.

Solar power technology and particular concentrating solar power (CSP) technology also made strides in Europe, with 20 MW Abengoa Solar, the world’s largest solar power tower plant beginning commercial operation n Spain.

Back to more conventional forms of power generation, the EU is without doubt leading the race in promoting the development of commercial carbon capture and storage. The promise of the provision of funding for 12 demonstration projects is clearly an important development. Along with the recent award of funding from the UK government to Scottish Power and E.ON for their post-combustion capture demonstration projects. Clearly, Europe has a wonderfully diversified energy landscape and in this month’s issue we are celebrating this diversification.

Last month the European Climate Forum released a report that in essence said that decarbonizing Europe by 2050 was possible and more importantly at no extra cost ” provided policymakers take the necessary steps. Tim Probert, deputy editor of PEi, takes a critical look at the report’s main findings to see if this is true. We also feature an article from Dr. Johannes Lambertz, CEO of German utility RWE Power, who spells out the importance of having a broad energy mix or, as he refers to it, ‘smart megawatts’ to guarantee secure and reliable energy supplies in the long-run.

Also this month, our regular contributor Chris Webb takes an in-depth look at Europe’s all-important natural gas supply, and explores what is being done to diversify its gas sources outside of its main supplier, Russia.

It will not have escaped your notice that the tome you have in your hands is our POWER-GEN Europe Special Issue, which contains a dedicated section featuring some of the highlights of the event, which this year takes place on 8-10 June in Amsterdam.

In my mind Europe’s continually shifting energy landscape, highlighted above, only serves to show how essential forums like POWER-GEN Europe and its co-located shows ” Renewable Energy World Europe, POWERGRID Europe and Nuclear Power Europe ” are. Such events are vital in helping to promote discussion and debate, share ideas and find solutions for problems because they bring all the main industry players under one roof.

Finally, as a bit of fun you can find a 100-year timeline on page 64 as part of PennWell Corporation’s centennial celebrations that highlights many of the key advances and developments in the world’s electric power industry. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself exclaiming: “Well, I never knew that!”

Enjoy this month’s issue and I hope to see you next month at POWER-GEN Europe.

Kind regards,
Heather Johnstone
Chief Editor

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