Tag Archives: Smart Grid

POWER-GEN Europe Day 1: Innovation drives a new era for European Power Generation

The POWER-GEN Europe Conference and Exhibition, Nuclear Power Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe opened in spectacular fashion today with keynote sessions from leading figures in the power industry. All three speakers were united in their belief that power generation is undergoing a period of unparalleled change, driven by innovation and energy policies.

Conference Director, Nigel Blackaby, welcomed delegates and opened the conference with a speech on the current position of Europe’s energy supply and on the energy market becoming increasingly converged for suppliers and consumers, as the need for flexible power generation grows.

Gianfilippo Mancini, Director of the Generation and Energy Management Division and Market Division at Enel, Italy explained that a new era has dawned across the European energy market and a deep transformation is underway. Renewable energy technologies such as smart grids have proven to significantly increase energy efficiency and companies on a global scale are beginning to invest heavily in their development.

During the keynote session Paul Browning, CEO of Thermal Products at GE Power & Water addressed the serious challenges of energy scarcity and discussed some of the actions being taken to create a more balanced global energy supply. Browning also touched on European energy policies and added that whilst the EU’s 202020 targets should be commended, the industry’s sights now need to be set even further.

Giuseppe Zampini, CEO, Ansaldo Energia closed the keynote session with his views and predictions for the energy sector, focussing on the future of the nuclear power industry.  This was discussed in the context of the recent events at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan and the impact these have had on the wider industry.

This year’s event has seen a record number of exhibitors, topping 600 for the first time. Advanced visitor registrations have also superseded those of last year with attendance from utilities rising especially fast.

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Keeping the smart grid simple: guest blog from Ulla Pettersson, director at e for energy and a member of the advisory board for POWER-GEN Europe 2011.

Smart grid strategies have still to be finalized across Europe as countries strive to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and ensure security of supply. A growing number of initiatives are underway, ranging from the small and simple to implement, to the large and highly complex. What’s become clear is that smart grids are challenging to deliver, raising multiple issues around the role that market participants should play, how best to meet consumer needs, and what the optimum technologies, standards, and schemes should be.

How this will be implemented will depend largely on the process of deregulation in the electricity sector, and in respect of the separation of transmission and distribution from the generation and sale of electricity. It is essential that the industry focus on flexible and well structured concepts not too complex to implement and that maintain the structural separation in liberalised markets.

Also, changes in the energy mix are making commercial realisation of smart grids more pressing. The adoption of renewables to meet environmental targets makes balancing supply and demand difficult for utilities, because renewable energy sources provide intermittent power generation. At the same time, demand side management requires tools enabling consumers to better monitor and manage their energy consumption. The provision of tariff information based on time for example, will support ‘peak shaving’ schemes, whereby the consumer is able to purchase power from the utility when tariffs are low, while giving them the ability to turn-off appliances.

However, the most important consideration for any smart grid strategy is that in the same way as a consumer should have the freedom to choose their vendor of electricity based on the most competitive price, they should also have the freedom to choose the best supplier of automation services for their electricity consumption. A smart meter supplied by the grid company that is a monopoly would not afford the consumer this choice. And a consumer able to request a home energy management tool based on their personal preferences is much more likely to use it effectively.

Essentially, the change in the energy mix requires smart metering that gives consumers right tools to move their consumption of electricity according to their requirements, preferences, and in response to periods of high or low supply. Crucially, metering must be the responsibility of the distribution system operator, not the retailer, if smart grids are to be implemented without compromising the important separation of transmission and distribution from generation and sales of electricity.

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How should the European power industry face-up to future challenges?

The smart grid has been one of the main talking points in the European power industry for the past ten years, promising a future of increased efficiency, lower costs, and a secure and dependable power supply.  Clearly, this is still a major issue, but one aspect which seems to have been ignored is what will happen to traditional power generation in the low carbon network.  No matter what model of smart-grid is implemented, it will be let down if the bulk of power is supplied by a fleet of ageing, inefficient power stations.

For the European energy industry, the problem isn’t a simple one. The cost of a new power station is prohibitive, and many projects can fail to get off the ground if a suitable site isn’t available or if local opposition is too strong. Clearly, the power sector must make the most of its current plants if it wants to improve efficiency and increase output. Renovation and retrofit schemes can breathe new life into aging power stations, reducing carbon emissions using existing resources.

It is clear that the traditional power sector in Europe is going to provide the foundation for the region’s energy future. However, it is going to have to undergo major transformation over the next decade in order to provide more power with fewer emissions. Whatever route is taken, it is crucial that it leads the way to a low carbon future, and makes it easier to increase the number of low carbon energy sources being used. The POWER-GEN Europe 2011 conference will provide a prime opportunity for the industry to discuss its options and work out where the future lies. The conference will be split into six separate tracks, with each track having seven session throughout the day, providing the opportunity to look at all of these issues, and more, in much greater detail.

For more information about the POWER-GEN Europe 2011 conference, and to book your place at the event, please visit the POWER-GEN Europe 2011 website.

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