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Top 5 takeaways from POWERGEN Europe

Enedis CEO Philippe Monloubou speaks at European Utility Week / POWERGEN Europe.

In a strange twist of events, POWERGEN Europe (PGE) took place in Paris the week just prior to POWERGEN International. Normally, the events would be separated by at least a month but this year they fell back-to-back. While the timing could be better for exhibitors and attendees who normally go to both events, on the other hand, putting them side by side allows for a nice compare and contrast of the two large energy markets.

So here are some key takeaways that we observed at POWERGEN Europe.

Europe is embracing the energy transition.

At PGE the conversation is all about the “energy transition.” It seems that all of Europe embraces the fact that the world is indeed transitioning from a system that was powered by large centralized fossil-fuel based energy plants to smaller, decentralized renewable energy power plants. Educational sessions focused on how to get to 100 percent renewables without destabilizing the energy supply, monetizing flexible energy solutions and where gas turbines fit in a carbon-neutral society. There is no doubt that we are in a world where renewable energy will soon dominate and POWERGEN Europe embraces that fact.

It’s not just low-carbon electricity.

At PGE and European Utility Week (EUW), which are co-located events, a lot of the discussion is around getting carbon out of the entire energy system – not just electricity. The recognition that we’ll need to electrify everything — from transportation to heating and cooling and then make sure that that electrification is done with low-carbon sources of energy — is front and center. Educational topics include breaking down silos between sectors and sector coupling.

Collaboration is key.

In order to electrify everything, there is a great emphasis on working together. During the keynote, Enedis CEO Philippe Monloubou spoke of the industrialization of the energy sector and said he believes it is already underway. He predicted that by 2030 France will have more than 100 GW of renewables and 8 GW of that will be self-consumption. In addition, he said that EU territories will need to be more interconnected in order to enable more energy trading and that the consumer will be the center of the energy transition.

“Everyone must be able to become a player in the energy transition,” he said.

Another keynote speaker, Cedrik Neike, CEO of Smart Infrastructure at Siemens, emphasized the importance of tearing down silos between different the energy sectors (transportation, heating/cooling, and electricity) in order to foster collaboration.

“No single company will be able to solve all of those elements,” he said.

Hydrogen, hydrogen, hydrogen.

After decades of starts and stops, the hydrogen industry is just about to take off and that couldn’t be more evident that it is in Europe. When the electricity grid is flooded with renewable energy, for example of a very sunny and windy day, and energy prices go negative, why not use that excess renewable electricity create green hydrogen, which can then be injected into the gas grid and/or stored in tanks for later use? That’s what is being explored and developed in many parts of the EU. Indeed, a hub session called “Hydrogen and Power-to-x” was standing room only.

The energy sector is changing and so are we.

That was the tagline for the new name for POWERGEN Europe / European Utility Week. At the event, European Utility Week and POWERGEN Europe Director Paddy Young and General Manager of Clarion Energy in the Netherlands Elisabeth Brusse unveiled the new name for the co-located events, which will now be called Enlit.

“From source to generation, to grid to the consumer, the boundaries of the sector are blurring, and this evolution is being shaped by established players, external disruptors, innovative start-ups and the increasingly engaged end-user. Enlit will bring together all of these influencers to seize current opportunities, spotlight future ones, and inspire the next generation to join the journey,” said Young in a press release.