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Powering through the economic downturn

PEi’s Associate Editor and POWER-GEN Europe Conference Director Nigel Blackaby introduces this month’s event in Cologne, Germany.

Nigel Blackaby, Associate Editor

For 17 years now, power industry professionals from Europe and beyond have been meeting annually at POWER-GEN Europe to acquaint themselves with the latest strategies, techniques and technologies to advance the operation of electricity generation across the continent. During that time, POWER-GEN Europe has become the recognized meeting place for the industry. For those serious about improving the operation of the power sector, it is the one date in the diary not to miss.

POWER-GEN International’s keynote speakers (left to right): Dr. Johannes Lambertz, President and Chief Executive Officer, RWE Power, Germany; Dr. Joachim Schneider, President of VDE and Member of the board, ABB AG, Germany; Wolfgang Dehen, CEO Energy Sector, Member of the Managing Board, Siemens, Germany; and plenary session moderator Vijay Vaitheeswaran, Global Energy and Healthcare Correspondent, The Economist, USA.
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This year’s event is taking place from the 26th to 28th May in Cologne in Germany, and delegates, along with visitors, will have access to, not just POWER-GEN Europe but also the POWER-GRID and Renewable Energy World Europe conferences and exhibitions. This is the third year running that these events have taken place together and it adds up to a huge range of power industry knowledge and technology located under one roof.

Focusing on generation

If your focus is on the business of power generation, POWER-GEN Europe’s 2009 conference has much to commend. This year’s conference is offering delegates a choice of seven parallel conference tracks, featuring over 200 speakers and presentations. Plus a trade show floor with over 500 exhibitors.

Despite the economic climate, this is no time to be taking your eye off the ball and letting the competition edge ahead. This year’s conference is designed to deliver what industry professionals need to know about European energy strategy, including the likely direction for electricity use in the future and the all-important 20/20/20 targets. Meeting these targets means lowering emissions, and POWER-GEN tackles this head on with several sessions devoted to the drive towards zero emissions and carbon capture and storage technologies.

As usual, the conference presents the very latest developments in gas turbines; the technology and their operation and optimization, culminating in an extended panel discussion session between GT experts, which is guaranteed to draw a large audience.

In the thermal power track, there are sessions on boiler technologies, which examine the progress towards higher steam operating conditions and focus on technologies suited for biomass. There are also presentations that examine the role that nuclear technology will play in the future European energy mix.

In Tracks 5 and 6 of the conference programme, major suppliers and utilities will present the very latest in plant electrical and instrumentation and control (I & C) systems and look at current fleet management and plant operation and optimization practices.

And where different conditions exist or where a smaller-scale solution is required, distributed generation and combined heat and power (CHP) is often the technology in question à‚— and the POWER-GEN’s conference provides the answers.

“This is no time to be taking your eye off the ball and letting the competition edge ahead. This year’s conference is designed to deliver what industry professionals need to know”

Renewable solutions

A favourite saying of Renewable Energy World Europe (REWE) conference director, Jackie Jones, is “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” As Editor of Renewable Energy World magazine, she argues that simply doing more of the same won’t deliver change or the transformation that is urgently needed by Europe’s energy industry, still experiencing an upward curve in energy consumption, while facing uncertain long-term prices for fossil fuels.

The conference programme Jackie and her advisory board have put together for Cologne, seeks to accelerate that transformation by highlighting the issues to be addressed and strategies and solutions available to significantly increase renewable energy across Europe in the coming years.

The REWE conference examines Germany’s rush to embrace renewable power generation and asks if it is a role model for Europe? Sessions also tackle the thorny issues of finance for renewable energy projects and the challenge of grid connection. There are separate sessions devoted to biomass projects and technologies, photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies plus offshore wind and other worthwhile emerging technologies.

The conference delves into how the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms are supporting renewable energy projects, winding up with a session looking at long-term scenarios and business strategies.

Building the Smart Grid

The co-located POWERGRID Europe 2009 conference is focused on meeting the energy challenge that utilities, vendors, consumers and regulators face across the continent as Europe struggles to interconnect and upgrade electric infrastructure. With the addition of renewable energy to the equation, the development and maintenance of a “smart grid” with the ability to communicate and heal itself is all the more important to both; keep the lights on and add renewable power into the equation as a regular and relied on generation source.

The POWERGRID Europe event has a number of conference sessions to educate attendees on the laws, technologies, case studies and concepts that can work together to make that “smart grid” a reality. Featuring worldwide vendors and leading utilities, the twin-track conference offers a font of insider knowledge.

Track 1 examines the leaps and bounds of our technological future à‚— a look at grid integrity and improvements that are on the cutting edge, such as how to funnel in renewables more reliably. And, luckily, Germany is the hot spot to learn all about interconnecting renewables.

Track 2 looks with an expert eye at the here and now: keeping the current infrastructure from getting worse and maintaining grid sustainability. With an ear to the ground today and an eye toward the future, POWERGRID Europe offers both the practical and the potential to academics and experts alike, giving everyone a chance to interact and exchange ideas on how to grow with the interconnecting transmission and distribution (T&D) marketplace.

Additionally, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), has graciously agreed to open the 2009 POWERGRID Europe show with an end-to-end discussion of the T&D industry at this collaborative turning point.

“One session nobody will want to miss is the panel discussion that gets right to the heart of the biggest problem in front of us all: Meeting the energy challenge in the face of the economic slowdown”

The big debate

One session nobody will want to miss is the joint panel discussion that gets right to the heart of the biggest problem in front of us all: “Meeting the energy challenge in the face of the economic slowdown”. Politicians and commentators may argue about who is to blame for the crisis, but, in this panel debate, an assembled team of industry experts will examine to what extent the global financial crisis is stalling Europe’s energy market as it strives to become more efficient and interconnected, more dependable and self-sufficient, and meet the increasing demand for cleaner electricity à‚— just some of the many challenges being faced.

Chaired by The Economist magazine’s energy guru Vijay Vaitheeswaran, and with panelists representing a wide range if industry interests, this debate is one that is being widely anticipated. At the time of going to press the panel line-up was as follows:

  • Jens Baganz – State Secretary, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy of the State of North Rhine Westphalia
  • Wolfgang Bischoff, Managing Director of Siemens Project Ventures
  • Steve Bolze, VP & CEO GE Power & Water
  • Hans Bàƒ¼nting, Chief Financial Officer RWE Innogy
  • Phillip Joubert, President, Alstom Power Sector
  • Uddesh Kohli, Former Managing Director of the Power Finance Corporation of India,
  • Colette Lewiner, Global Leader, Energy, CapGemini
  • Chuck Newton, President, Newton-Evans Research Company
  • Stefan Thiele, Global representative for Renewables EnBW AG

Wall to wall technology

Beyond the conferences, POWER-GEN Europe, POWERGRID Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe also offer dedicated trade show floors, with over 500 exhibiting companies displaying state-of-the-art services, software, hardware and technologies. All of the exhibitors are in Cologne to meet with the market and so the exhibition floor is another great place to find out about the solutions available to meet the many industry challenges.

The very latest technology will also be on display at the three power generation facilities that have opened their doors to visitors from POWER-GEN Europe, POWERGRID Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe. Technical tours have been arranged on the morning of 25th May to RWE’s BoA coal unit at Niederaussem, the Libur biogas CHP plant operated by Ecofys, and Stadtwerke Jàƒ¼lich’s unique concentrating solar tower operated by DLR. Registration for the tours can be completed online, via any of the three events’ websites.

With over 14 000 visitors expected to attend over the three days of these three co-located events, the networking opportunities available in Cologne this May are unrivalled. Delegates and visitors can enjoy hospitality on many of the larger stands on the exhibition floor and everyone is welcome at the grand networking reception in the delegate restaurant on Wednesday 27th May. With food, drink and music provided for free, the Networking Reception provides a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and make valuable new ones. Look out also for news of other receptions during the three days in Cologne.

On the last afternoon, POWER-GEN Europe announces the winners of its Best Paper Awards and presentations will be made to the winners at the PennWell Stand at 15:00. Winners of these prestigious awards are recognized by the industry as being the ‘Best of the Best’, having demonstrated to the judges outstanding concept, innovation and content in their papers.

There will be so much going on at the Koelnmesse in late May, but attendees need not worry about missing anything because news of announcements, daily activities and industry news will be delivered each day through the show’s daily newspaper, Today, handed out at the venue and through a daily online video posted to the event websites.

For three days in Cologne this May, power industry professionals can look forward to an important opportunity for learning, debating and networking. Make a point of joining them, and be a part of “Meeting the Energy Challenge”.