By Rod Walton, Power Engineering and POWERGEN Content Director
The POWERGEN International Call for Speakers ends early next week. We are looking for submissions to present sessions in Decarbonization, Digitalization, Energy Storage Breakthroughs, the Future of Electricity, Hydrogen: What’s New, What’s Next; Optimizing Plant Performance, the New Energy Mix (On-site Power) and Trends in Conventional Power). Go to powergen.com to learn more and submit a session idea.
The relationship: The power generation mix and its future. Status: It’s complicated.
In all my years of covering the energy industry, each new calendar entry seems to get more focused on the way forward. Utilities and suppliers are crafting long-term plans indicating seismic shifts in how they operate and what they will use to generate electricity. The Destination is 2050, but how do we get there? It seems a long way away, but it’ll be here tomorrow.
POWERGEN International, twice delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to return live January 26-28, 2022 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. When POWERGEN returns, it happens within an industry evolving at a frenetic pace.
The challenge is reflecting that unfolding nature of power generation both in the U.S. and worldwide. For this reason, many of POWERGEN’s content tracks and Knowledge Hubs will be titled differently than in years past, reflecting a sector full of overlap, evolution and long-term uncertainty.
The overlap? Well, nothing happens in a vacuum, except for some pumps and tubes at your friendly neighborhood power plant, pardon the pun. Decarbonization can include digitalization as well as optimized plant performance, energy storage, renewables and even greater efficiency in the fossil and nuclear power realms.
“Climate change and environmental issues have driven most power generators’ decisions for some time, unleashing the energy transition,” Teresa Hansen, vice president, content, for Clarion Events, said. “In the past few years, many U.S. utilities have committed to net zero carbon by 2050. This goal will not be easy to meet. It will accelerate the energy transition and will require collaboration with all industry players—solution providers, power generators, legislators, regulators and customers. The POWERGEN International team and our conference advisory committee are working hard to make sure that we provide a program that addresses not just the challenges and solutions facing the industry is now, but those that lie ahead. Our goal is to bring industry players together and be a catalyst that sparks the collaboration and innovation necessary to ensure success.”
We are all in this together to create a 2050 vision for power generation that is closer to carbon free, while remaining resilient and resource adequate. These goals form the basic target at which most suppliers, utilities and their customers are aiming.
“We are thrilled to present a comprehensive educational program for POWERGEN International 2022,” Stephanie Kolodziej, portfolio director of North American Energy for Clarion Events. “The accelerated changes that Covid has brought to the industry has allowed us to reflect and re-imagine how we shape the future of generation together with our customers. Our updated conference program and HUBS will showcase current industry trends and challenges balanced with forward looking content focused on “Destination 2050” and the future of energy. The industry is evolving and sometimes uncertain. Our program will help with navigating the changes faced within the industry and offer a way forward-together.”
Thus, we thought we’d include a basic primer for POWERGEN’s newer content tracks listed in our Call for Speakers. The carryovers are Optimizing Plant Performance, Energy Storage Breakthroughs and Digitalization, so we figured those were pretty well understood. Here are the four newly named tracks and two Knowledge Hubs attempting to reflect the mixed evolution of the complicated, crucial resource that is electricity.
Buzzword of the ages, right? And yet hundreds of utilities, government agencies and corporate citizens have claimed net zero as a goal no later than 2050. Sounds good, but the work getting there has already started and must accelerate. This track is seeking content on how the power generation sector responds to climate change, carbon costs, government regulation, carbon capture, clean coal, new gas-fired turbine technologies, the future of both large-scale and small modular reactor nuclear energy, plus the fast-rising development of utility-scale wind and solar projects. Those last ones are huge for the future mix.
Hydrogen: What’s News, What’s Next?
H2 minus the O: it’s what’s for the future. Every major equipment manufacturer, from Mitsubishi Power to Siemens to MAN Energy Solutions and beyond, is working on hydrogen-fired technologies for the near and long terms. This session will seek content around gas turbine transitions, electrolysis challenges, fuel cell technologies. Then there are the significant head winds: financing, production, storage, infrastructure and achieving truly carbon-free output.
The Future of Electricity
This goes back to Destination 2050. All of the other topics point this way, but what is truly the direction of the power generation mix in the coming three decades? This track seeks content on integration challenges for the bulk power system, regulatory barriers, rate reform and new market designs, inverter technology potential and limitations, site-specific power generation innovations such as hybrid microgrids, and interconnection needs.
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POWERGEN 2022 also will include two Knowledge Hubs on the exhibition floor: The New Energy Mix and Trends in Conventional Power. These terms are generic enough to create confusion, so we want to clear the air and offer some deeper details on what type of content is desired for those stages.
New Energy Mix
Unprecedented weather events and distributed energy accessibility is changing how customers want to receive their electricity, whether those customers are industrial manufacturers, commercial offices, mission-critical facilities, or homeowners who desire protection from outages and want a smaller carbon footprint. This is the crossroads where on-site power, resiliency, and distributed energy meet. This hub seeks content focused on combined heat and power (CHP, cogeneration) projects, when to choose (or not to choose) microgrids, on-site gas and diesel technologies, reciprocating engine potentials, disaster response, energy mobility and localized renewable energy projects.
Trends in Conventional Power.
Gas-fired, coal-fired and nuclear power still account for 75 percent of the U.S. generation mix, more or less in other nations. The key point is that conventional, baseload resources are not going away any time soon, not even by 2050, most likely. So how do large-scale power plants evolve in the new generation order? This hub will seek content on power plant cycling and load following adaptations, carbon capture, improving modern coal fleet economics, flue gas and other emissions control technologies, international market developments, next-gen turbines, fuel flexibility, peaker plants and, sometimes, decommissioning considerations.
The POWERGEN Call for Speakers is open until May 17. Sessions which can include utility co-presenters are encouraged and given extra weight for selection. But we encourage anyone who can speak as experts on case studies, new trends, technical aspects and insights into the future to submit their session ideas. POWERGEN is all about generation now and forward, however complicated that may prove to be.