With plans well underway for POWER-GEN Europe 2013 and Renewable Energy World Europe 2013, conference director Nigel Blackaby has written two blogs examining some of the key themes that will drive the debate in Vienna
Keeping Europe’s power flowing is the theme of POWER-GEN Europe 2013 and Renewable Energy World Europe 2013 and it is one of the key issues facing the power generation industry this year. The demand for power has never been greater in Europe and there is a real danger of the lights going out across the continent if this need is not met. This year’s conference and exhibition will explore the challenges Europe faces and the possible solutions.
Rapid growth in renewable infrastructure is placing considerable pressure on Europe’s power system. Renewables predominately generate power intermittently, meaning their increasing prominence in the energy mix poses new challenges in respect to security of supply. System flexibility, back-up and storage are therefore pressing priorities.
In particular, intermittency of supply means backup generation is critical to ensuring consistent stability in load at all times. Power generation technology development has focused heavily on the area of flexible gas-fired solutions, with manufacturers designing gas turbines to be fast ramping in order to achieve maximum load as quickly as possible and with the capability to operate efficiently in part-load conditions.
Similarly, manufacturers of gas engines are looking to improve their efficiency. For example, power plants are now being constructed with a dozen fast-starting gas engines, which provide the plant operator with the capability to use a small number where necessary and quickly fire-up additional ones should demand increase.
There have also been significant advances in storage technologies. Hydro power pump storage in particular is gaining traction in countries such as Austria and Switzerland. Here, the electricity generated by renewables can be used to pump water from a lake at the bottom of a mountain to another lake or storage facility at the top. When needed, the water is then released back down the hill and passes through a hydro turbine in order to generate power that is fed back into the grid.
The integration of renewables into the energy mix also means a marrying of the technologies themselves, such as designs allowing the construction of hybrid power plants. With hybrid concentrating solar power (H-CSP) for example, a solar add-on is fitted in a conventional power plant to take over a part of its steam supply otherwise supplied by fossil fuel. H-CSP can make significant savings in terms of fuel consumption, cut the level of CO2 emissions, and increase both the power plant’s peak load capability and efficiency.
In my next blog I will discuss the importance of ingenuity in keeping Europe’s power flowing and how older technology can be enhanced to compliment modern innovations, but in the mean time, if you would like to attend the event and conference please visit our registration page