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European Energy Debate Centers Around Energy “Consumers” not “Rate-payers”

Day 2 of the POWER-GEN Europe conference and exhibition, and its co-located show, Renewable Energy World Europe, hosted a joint plenary panel discussion exploring the theme of this year’s event “Navigating the power transition” in detail. Comprised of industry experts from around the world, the panel debated the importance of adaptation for the industry, the role that national and European governments should play in guiding the market, and the role of technology as being a catalyst for change.

The thought-provoking debate was moderated by Karel Beckman, Editor-in-chief of Dutch publication, Energy Post. Beckman opened the session by asserting that instead of lamenting the challenges that Germany’s Energiewende presents, Europe must accept that “the genie is out of the bottle” and should instead consider the opportunities that change brings.

The panel also comprised: Professor Emmanouil Kakaras, President, European Power Plant Suppliers Association (EPPSA), Belgium; Helmut Moshammer, Director of Product Development, Doosan Lentjes, Germany; Jim Lightfoot, Chief Operating Officer, Gas-CCGT, E.ON GmbH; and Jonas Rooze, Associate, European Power, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, UK. To put Europe’s challenges in the international context, John Easton, Vice President of International Programs, Edison Electric Institute (EEI), offered his view from the perspective of the power market in the U.S.

During their introductions, each panellist outlined his own view on Europe’s power generation industry. However, there was a consensus that the current power transition will continue for the near future, and that the rate of change will increase exponentially. The panellists also agreed that there are no easy solutions to the challenges Europe faces, and that many industry players must adapt to survive. Crucially, it was agreed that utilities must accept that those purchasing energy are “consumers” as opposed to simple “rate payers," and adjust their business strategies accordingly.

In reaction to Karel’s opening statements, the panel also highlighted the various opportunities that the evolving power market presents. As consumers of energy continue to influence the fortunes of utilities, the panel argued that there is a chance for innovative companies to appeal directly to end users by listening to their needs and producing user-friendly energy management products, devices and energy packages. They also said that companies offering value-added services will be more likely to thrive than those opting for legacy business models, and warned that the market is set to become more competitive with companies such as Apple, Google and various telecoms players looking to seize market share.

Following the debate, an interactive Q&A explored specific queries from the audience. Questions were not confined to the auditorium however, as viewers of the webcast, from dozens of countries around the world, also asked the panel their views. It was clear from the diversity of the online audience that interest in Europe’s power industry far exceeds the continents borders; the webcast drew participation from countries such as Australia, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Singapore and Pakistan. Topics discussed included: the impact of energy storage on the power market; the potential of CSS; the uptake of electric vehicles; and the future of natural gas and hybrid energy.

Renewable Energy World North America and POWER-GEN International will take place 8-11 December 2014 in Orlando, Florida. 

The next Renewable Energy World Europe and POWER-GEN Europe will be held on 9-11 June 2015, and returns to the RAI in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Lead image: European home with solar panels via Shutterstock


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