POWER-GEN Europe 2015 held in Amsterdam

In 2015, one of the biggest European energy events, the POWER-GEN Europe, was taking place in Amsterdam, in conjuncture with Renewable Energy World Europe. The event was held at the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, welcoming more than 10,000 power industry professionals, exhibitors and conference delegates.

The 2015 event theme became “The Energy Transition is changing Europe”, which in turn was broken down into 11 separate categories like municipalities, e-mobility, renewables, and others.

One of the event’s highlights was the joint opening keynote session with, among others, the much anticipated speaker Maria van der Hoeven, currently the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. Before taking this office, Ms. Van der Hoeven served as Minister for Economic Affairs of The Netherlands (2007-2010); during this period she became particularly known for her strong position on energy policy, both in The Netherlands and globally.

During her address Ms. van der Hoeven spoke, among other things, about the need to integrate the European electricity markets. Ms. van der Hoeven stated that although making some promising steps in this regard, Europe is still “facing significant technical and policy hurdles to regional electricity market integration and the integration of variable renewables”. She also stated that, despite the fact that European utilities “find themselves squeezed” due to reduced demand and profitability, they will continue to evolve; furthermore, according to Ms. van der Hoeven, grids will remain the backbone of the energy system.

At this year’s edition of POWER-GEN Europe, visitors also witnessed the presentation of the Best Paper Awards,  and the 2015 Peabody Energy AEFL Clean Coal Awards. Another must-see was the Diplomatic Quarter, which is returning to the conference for the third time: this is a dedicated pavilion that gathers together commercial representatives from embassies around the world.

While at the venue, NRG Magazine talked to Nigel Blackaby, Director of Conferences at PenWell International Power Group; PenWell is the owner and organizer of POWER-GEN Europe and Renewable Energy Europe World.

NRG Magazine: Why did you choose Amsterdam as the venue this year?
Nigel Blackaby: Amsterdam has always been interesting for POWER-GEN Europe. It is a very attractive city, and very well connected to the rest of the world. But apart from that, The Netherlands also has been doing some very interesting things in the electricity sector: they have been restructuring it and moving towards a decentralized generation. For the energy professionals there is quite a lot to look at here. Amsterdam has adopted a lot of smart city technologies. The fact that you are driven in a taxi that’s a Tesla is one very good illustration of what’s happening here.
Do you already know where you are going to take this event next year?
Yes. We are going to Milan, which is also one of our favorites — when we go to Italy, our attending audience is one of the largest. POWER-GEN Europe is moving from city to city in Western Europe, and we don’t focus on one particular country. We are often in Germany, Italy and Spain — those are our main homes.
Why did you decide on this particular theme this year? 
 Europe’s electricity is changing in so many different ways, affecting so many different actors across the industry, that it makes this theme very multi-layered. We wanted to recognize that things are changing for everybody: as much for the utilities as for the suppliers, and their old relationships with customers are changing as well. This all means a huge disruption of the business model. Because our main audience is supplying technology and services to the energy industry, they need to have an appreciation of this change, and to understand in which direction they are going.
How will the theme change next year?
 I don’t think that in 12 months things will be radically different: the fundamentals of the industry do not change so quickly. Nonetheless, I expect a slight variation on the theme. This year we already started to talk about what we call “urban energy integration”. It is partly about the smart cities, but actually older than that. It is more about the way that the electricity sector can combine with the decentralization, and a better integration with cities and municipalities. We were talking about the e-mobility, about electric cars. I suspect a bit more of a movement in that direction.
What kind of a role does POWER-GEN Europe play on the European tech and energy scene?
 It’s bringing together the major technology suppliers from all over the world. We call it “Europe”, but if you look at the exhibition floor, you will see the Chinese, Japanese and Korean exhibitors too, and of course the major US suppliers like GE. It’s a place for all the technology providers to come together, meet their customers, their sub-suppliers and many other people. I think that outside of the US there is probably no such event on terms of scale and people.
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POWER-GEN Europe 2015 held in Amsterdam

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