Tag Archives: Jacob Klimstra Consultancy

POWER-GEN & Renewable Energy World Europe: three days in 90 minutes

This year’s POWER-GEN Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe conferences are introducing a new session called the Joint Summary Session which will boil the three day conferences down into just 90 minutes.

Jacob Klimstra, author of the new book “Power Supply Challenges”, will kick-off the session by presenting his own unique take on the conference.

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Renewables subsidies in Europe need a re-think

jacob klimstraRenewable energy sources and, more specifically, the way in which these are integrated into existing energy markets are an ever-growing concern. Jacob Klimstra, head of Jacob Klimstra Consultancy, discusses the impact that subsidising renewable energy sources, particularly in Germany, has on the European energy market.

Germany is a prime example of a country that is disrupting its own energy markets as well as those around it, as a direct result of the renewable energy subsidies it has introduced. Naturally, it is difficult to argue against the importance of stimulating renewable energy use. Yet the impact of feed-in tariffs and other subsidy schemes on the wider energy market needs to be reconsidered. Continue reading

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Why it’s a question of politics versus science for European power

jacob klimstraIn the second of our guest blogs examining the factors shaping the policy and investment strategy in the European power market, Dr. Jacob Klimstra, Energy and Engine Consultant and member of the POWER-GEN Europe advisory board, discusses the barriers to growth and what Europe can learn from the US.

ENEL president Fulvio Conti recently described the power sector as being ‘uninvestable’ and on the face of it, this would appear to be true. Certainly, the growth forecasts for Europe’s power industry are disappointing. On average, investment is set to grow by 0-2% per annum according to latest figures from Eurelectric (the Union of the Electricity Industry), and most of this will be focused on renewables, which are intermittent sources of power generation that require back-up. Yet there is little incentive to invest in back-up equipment.

Some people believe that an open, interconnected, and integrated European electricity market is the key to reinvigorating the sector. But while electricity and energy are the engines of the economy and they have to be as cheap as possible, I have yet to see any evidence that an open market leads to a real drop in prices. So I don’t believe that this is the right mechanism. Rather, it would be better to follow the traditional model where national energy companies are controlled by the state and are supported by long-term investment ensuring citizens have access to reliable and cheap electricity.

EU decision-making stymied

However, one of the biggest issues today is that the policy determination for the power industry is dominated by decision makers that believe everything is a matter of opinion, not scientific fact. We need more scientists and engineers involved directly with the decision-making processes.

In the US for example, it is common practice to set up committees that include representatives from users, suppliers, manufacturers, and academics. By finding the right type of experts, they find the right solution. This is what was achieved with gas quality in the US. The current wrangling over deteriorating gas quality in Europe is an example of how EU decision-making is stymied by bureaucracy and lobbying.

At the same time, it is vital that we nurture Europe’s next-generation of scientists and engineers. Globalisation dictates that multi-national firms will locate their sites where the workforce is best educated, and where labour and power costs are most competitive. We therefore need to place more focus on fuelling the engine that generates wealth for Europe – i.e. the power industry – by furnishing the next-generation workforce with the skills and technical expertise necessary for Europe to compete on a global basis.

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Integrating renewables into the power grid

As POWER-GEN Europe celebrates its 20th anniversary, we’ve invited members of its advisory board to consider the trends that shaped the industry and how current developments could influence its evolution over the next two decades.

In this post, Dr. Jacob Klimstra, Senior Energy and Engine Specialist, Jacob Klimstra Consultancy, looks at the challenges that renewables have brought to the power grid and the increasingly important role of gas-based power plants.

At a time when customers are demanding ever-higher levels of reliability, the fact renewables bring more intermittency into the grid means greater complexity. In unbundled markets, companies are unwilling to invest because every plant has a technical life of between 40 and 50 years, meaning there is always the danger of a competitor coming along with a better technology.

Effectively, we need system flexibility in terms of both fuels and outputs. Specifically, modern gas-fuelled equipment such as fast responding fuel-efficient gas engines, together with combined cycle gas turbine plants for steadier loads.

Ensuring plant flexibility is the only way forward for the power industry. Renewables introduce variations in output into the grid, yet nuclear, brown coal and coal-fired power plants do not integrate easily with renewables because they have to be heated slowly to avoid wear. This means gas-based power plants will be essential in meeting demand for power by delivering the necessary level of system flexibility and the ability to respond rapidly to changes in demand.

The carbon-free challenge

In a fully sustainable world, gas, natural gas and biogas will offer the most economical solution for peaking power, covering contingency demand and for bridging seasonal differences. For the time being, there is sufficient supply of natural gas and shale gas to act as a buffer. Moving forward, a carbon-free power industry is possible for countries with wind, solar and hydro energy. But for others, such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, it will be close to impossible.

However, that doesn’t mean we cannot reduce the use of fossil fuel to a large extent. Natural gas will be required as a buffer for times when there is not a lot of wind or solar energy available, so I would argue that reducing our carbon emissions to about 30 per cent of current levels would be a much more realistic and practical goal.

Similarly, it would be wrong to assume that energy management technologies such as smart metering and smart grids can solve the whole energy issue. Smart appliances might help a little to reduce peaks in electricity demand and to smooth peaks in renewable electricity production. However, smart power generation is needed to solve the variability in electricity production from wind, solar, wave and tidal sources.

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