Coal, Emissions, Energy Storage, Gas, Nuclear, On-Site Power

Op-ed: POWER-GEN at 30 Strives for Simply Irresistible

How does one describe the pace of change within the electric power generation mix now from three short decades ago?

Simply Irresistible, to quote Robert Palmer’s massive 1988 hit. And you just got to Roll with It, as Stevie Winwood sang triumphantly the same year.

POWER-GEN International will celebrate its 30th birthday when it begins next week in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center’s West Halls. Like most 30-somethings, PGI is vastly more educated both of the hard-knocks and academic kinds, carries more responsibility and yet remains ever more uncertain of what the future holds.

Change is coming, always coming. The road from the power plant to the customer is no different. In 1988, coal-fired generation led the way, with nuclear strong and natural gas turbine power just a young challenger getting its legs under it. Hydro was certainly a key player, but solar and wind were but pipe dreams of the environmental outsider.

Nothing could be further from the truth today. Coal is still vastly important, but receding for economic reasons as much as environmental. A revolution in shale gas drilling has put a new leader tentatively atop the generation mix. Solar and wind are gaining every day, as prices make them ever more competitive. And, yeah, hydro and nuclear are still here and still crucial.

In other words, it’s an “all-of-the-above” power generation mix. And that’s where POWER-GEN International comes in, offering plenty of something for everyone who works in those sectors. The motto is “Where Conventional meets Renewable” and that’s where we’re making our stand.

This view doesn’t make everyone happy, of course, but it’s where our world is right now and will be for years, perhaps decades, maybe longer. PGI is a reflection of that.

Interested in optimizing plant performance and seeing the latest in gas-turbine technologies? POWER-GEN has it. Financing projects, cutting emissions, cycling coals plants or integrating energy storage into microgrids and renewables? POWER-GEN will have it.

AI, Blockchain, predictive maintenance, nuclear energy relicensing and decommissioning. Check, check, check and double-check.

Throw in technical tours to places like Kissimmee Utility Authority’s gas-fired Cane Island Power Park and the host venue Orange County Convention Center’s rooftop solar array, as well as Siemen Gamesa Renewables’ wind training center. POWER-GEN will have content sessions both upstairs, as normal, and something new on the exhibit level called Knowledge Hubs, accessible to anyone walking the floor. And the continuing education-minded PGUs are ringing the bell on Monday.

So much to do, so little time in those four short days from Monday to Thursday. And if you decide to stick around, POWER-GEN is also giving away a car. What kind of car? Well, come and find out.

POWER-GEN at 30 runs kind like a Mercedes-Benz (hint, hint). We aim for classic and cutting-edge at the same time. Is this self-promotional? Yes. Are we moving as fast as possible to keep up in a world that needs it? Yes.

Hope to see you in Orlando next week. If you’re a power generation pro you’ll find something extremely worthwhile there. It’s a Wild, Wild West out there, so the Escape Club warned us way back when. And POWER-GEN will arm you and defend you.

It’ll be Big.

(Rod Walton is Content Manager, Power Engineering and POWER-GEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).