Power industry prepares to go Dutch

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PEi’s Associate Editor and POWER-GEN Europe Conference Director Nigel Blackaby looks ahead at what to expect when Europe’s power industry gathers in Amsterdam in June.

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Nigel Blackaby, Associate Editor

Once a year, Europe’s power industry professionals gather together to exchange views, find new solutions and encounter the latest technological developments to help meet their day-to-day challenges. POWER-GEN Europe is that meeting place and has been serving the information and networking needs of those involved in Europe’s electricity sector since 1993. This year the industry meets in the Netherlands on 8″10 June where the Amsterdam RAI will be hosting the largest ever European exhibition of power industry equipment, components and services.

Keynote speakers (left to right): Ruud Lubbers, Former Dutch Prime Minister, Frank Wouters,
CEO, Masdar Power, Joost van Dijk, CEO, E.ON Benelux and plenary panel discussion moderator, Stephen Sackur, International journalist and TV presenter

Owners, managers and engineers involved in all aspects of the power sector across Europe face a range of complex challenges in what is a vital strategic and increasingly globalized industry. Competitive markets inevitably lead to pressure to build and operate ever more efficient power plants and to create a reliable and integrated electricity system. Meanwhile, the obligation to be good stewards of the environment in an industry where fossil fuels still predominate creates additional challenges as well as opportunities for renewable and distributed generation alternatives.

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SHIFTING MARKET

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The power industry, while rooted in many mature technologies, is in a state of flux and is likely to undergo significant change in the coming decades. Some parts of the sector will see radical change while for others it will be more evolutionary. This creates significant opportunities for the well-informed and fleet-of-foot. According to a recent report from Amadee & Company, the market for power generation equipment is growing much faster than global GDP and is undergoing major shifts in terms of technologies, fuels used and geographic demand.

For example, sales of coal fired generation equipment are expected to fall by 50 per cent between 2010″2014, compared to 2005″2009 and they will continue dropping to 20 to less than half that of 2005. By comparison, the report forecasts that nuclear generation equipment’s share during the next decade will grow almost fivefold and renewables almost fourfold.

Regardless of the area of the market, power industry professionals have an increasingly vital need to stay abreast of current developments if they are to succeed in this evolving marketplace. The chance to gain a deeper understanding of the changes taking place in the industry and to exchange views with those facing similar challenges is therefore invaluable. This type of encounter leads to healthy discussion and debate, and often to the development of strategic and technological solutions.

Since POWER-GEN Europe was staged in Cologne last year, the economic downturn has continued to be a major factor affecting growth and demand for electricity. This has required utilities to re-evaluate their strategies, which in the proceeding years had been focused on growth. The growth has led to a build-up of debt that has now become more expensive and so some rationalization and cost”cutting has had to be implemented. But now, with signs of recovery, the market is keen to know how utilities are positioning themselves to support this recovery.

How soon will the increase in economic activity absorb the surplus capacity currently available? And is the electricity system robust enough to be reliable, efficient, clean and affordable? Practitioners in the power industry know better than anyone else that this will require complex strategic decisions at board level, supported by the deployment of the latest technological developments.

Bringing power industry professionals together face-to-face in order to discuss these issues and to familiarize themselves with state-of-the-art technology, is the prime objective of POWER-GEN Europe and its co-located events. The views expressed by industry leaders at these conferences will influence the debate and inform policymakers and regulators. The technologies and services being discussed in conference sessions will help enable you to meet your own objectives.

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FOUR shows in one

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Over the last eighteen years POWER-GEN Europe has grown exponentially and in recent years this has led to the creation of sister conferences and exhibitions. This means that this year’s event in Amsterdam is now the perfect meeting place for everyone involved in the electricity generation, transmission, distribution and smart grid industries, with POWER-GEN Europe co-located alongside Renewable Energy World Europe, Nuclear Power Europe and POWERGRID Europe conferences & exhibitions. This amounts to 11 conference tracks, 80 sessions and well over 250 expert speakers across the three days of the event. Although there are many conferences aimed at the electricity industry, there is really only one where the learning and networking opportunities are so extensive across such a broad spectrum of the market and that offers such a large trade show floor of exhibitors.

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KEYNOTE session

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The programme at the Amsterdam RAI starts at 09:30 on Tuesday 8 June with a joint keynote session for all delegates, exhibitors and visitors from all four events. This will set the scene for the remainder of the event and features three Dutchman, each bringing their own perspective.

Ruud Lubbers, who was Prime Minister of the Netherlands for over a decade, has always seen energy as a major issue for the economy and the environment. He remains involved in initiatives for climate protection, CCS, smart cities and energy research and is active in the International Earth Charter Commission.

Frank Wouters is now based in Abu Dhabi and is CEO of Masdar Power. He has 20 years of experience in the renewable energy, chemical and energy efficiency sectors. Masdar’s influence on clean energy development and sustainable urban environments is being felt way beyond its home in the UAE.

Joost van Dijk heads up E.ON Benelux and is therefore responsible for a significant territory for one of the largest energy providers in Europe. Among these responsibilities is meeting a growing demand for power in the region, operating ultra-modern coal fired power plants and a planned carbon capture test site.

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COMPREHENSIVE CONFERENCE PROGRAMMES

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The POWER-GEN Europe conference offers six parallel tracks covering strategic and technical topics, featuring commercial and practical solutions and experiences for power industry businesses.

A particular highlight is the ‘Utilities’ double session on the second day that includes a panel discussion between senior representatives from European utilities including Iberdrola, Electrabel and ESBI as well as a presentation from Eurelectric’s Secretary General Hans ten Berge, about how his organization views the utility of the future.

Track 2 focuses on the climate change agenda, with a look at the latest developments on carbon capture technology as well as other emission reduction and efficiency improvements. The remaining tracks go to the heart of the technology and services that make-up the industry including power plant design, build and operation, the major mechanical, electrical and IT components with all papers chosen by industry practitioners.

Two parallel conference tracks will be serving the needs of those interested or involved in renewable energy though the Renewable Energy World Europe conference. The theme and presentations are geared towards the utility-scale implementation of renewable technology, which is why the co-location with the mainstream power industry makes so much sense. Both onshore and offshore wind technologies and projects are covered as well as the increasing role of concentrating solar power and biomass.

POWERGRID Europe is the conference that addresses the key issues for those involved in building and operating Europe’s electricity transmission systems and also focuses on local grids in its Smart Cities sessions. Amsterdam is itself implementing some smart grid technologies and it Climate Street initiative is the destination for a special tour available to visitors to POWERGRID Europe and the accompanying events.

This year sees the inaugural Nuclear Power Europe conference & exhibition that will explore the progress towards a nuclear renaissance in Europe and take an in-depth look at the new reactors designs on offer from the main players in Europe’s nuclear industry. Sessions will also examine the new projects currently underway with a highlight being a panel discussion on ‘The Viability of Nuclear Power: Politics, Economics and the Environment’.

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CLIMATE DEBATE

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The conference returns to the environment theme with a joint plenary panel discussion in the main auditorium on Wednesday afternoon. The relative failure of the Copenhagen climate change talks in December and the effect this has on the electricity sector will be the subject of this debate, being moderated by international broadcaster, Stephen Sackur. His panel will be made up of senior figures representing the supply sector, utilities and an NGO who will exchange views on how the power sector should respond to the continued uncertainty in an industry that has to plan for the long term.

As well as the conference, POWER-GEN Europe offers its largest ever dedicated trade show floor, with around 500 exhibiting companies displaying state-of-the art services and technologies which include dedicated areas devoted to the four co-located events.

Those planning to attend from Europe’s utility companies will be able to take advantage of discounted delegate rates, an exclusive lounge for them and their guests plus a fast track registration, by signing up for the Utility Partner Programme. Dutch utilities have been busy adding to the installed capacity in the country and several project are either underway or in the pipeline, which could see the Netherlands become a net exporter of electricity. Indications are that Amsterdam will prove to be a popular location for POWER-GEN Europe and a record turnout is highly likely.

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