Amsterdam, Netherlands (European Utility Week Preview) – Some 8,000 of the utility industry’s leading minds and vendors of the latest technology are gathering for European Utility Week, the annual smart energy invasion at the Amsterdam RAI from 15-17 October, at what is the largest industry conference and exhibition on the continent.
At this year’s event whole new areas of content including smart cities, renewable integration and energy storage solutions will be covered, whilst extended coverage is also devoted to the key emerging topics: ICT & data management and grid security. Smart metering, transmission & distribution and the end-user engagement, meanwhile, remain core focus areas.
The event will feature an international exhibition with more than 350 solution providers, 200 industry expert speakers with some 8,000 conference delegates and expo visitors, including representatives from more than 300 leading utilities. The exhibition floor will play host to much greater content-based interaction in addition to roundtable sessions at the Innovation & Technology Platforms and a huge debating forum being staged within the much enlarged ‘Energy Experience’.
For the first time the event has an overarching theme, ‘Pulling in one direction’, that provides a central rationale to the presentations and offers added value in helping to shape the smart energy debate.
“The challenges to the electricity market are well known,” says Jon Stretch, Executive Vice President, Landis+Gyr EMEA. “How to transform a system that was built on one-way flows of power from large, centralised power plants to a multi-directional, dynamic electricity supply system where much of the development is going to take place in the distribution network…..is going to be very complicated, and the transformation will be neither easy nor quick, but it will come.” Global smart energy technology leaders Landis+Gyr and Toshiba are joint platinum sponsors at European Utility Week.
Discussing the pace of developments in Europe, Stretch says he is surprised by the lack of activity over recent years. “We have been waiting for the ‘smart metering wave’ to roll over Europe for the last five years, but it has been excruciatingly slow. There is legislation at the European level in place and the technology is mature and ready to be put in the field, yet the deployments are not taking place. Some of the larger countries are beginning to move, but those deployments have not started. If experience is any guide, there will be more bumps on the road along the way.”
On the other hand, Mr. Katsutoshi Toda, Chief Technology Executive, Toshiba Corporation, is pleased with the rapid pace with which smart grid industries and technologies are moving and evolving. He is also pleasantly surprised by the “strong interest and support coming from different industry sectors. The way they express their cooperation and desire for a more efficient energy system is just overwhelming. Everyone should be well aware that smart grids will not only contribute to a smarter energy system, they shall also serve as an essential foundations for realising other goals like smarter transportation, medical and security systems. All these, shall come together and help us in our far more ambitious goal – a smarter community”.
“As utilities scramble to meet European energy benchmarks in the next several years, they will have to make significant and expensive changes to their networks, particularly as they look to accommodate the roll out of smart grids and renewable energy sources,” says Linda Jackman, Group Vice President Industry Strategy at Oracle Utilities, gold sponsor at this year’s event.
She continues: “The struggle to make the necessary modifications in a cost-effective manner is a very present challenge affecting utility providers. In fact, although the scope of these changes has been known for a few years now, there remains a sizeable gap in industry knowledge and IT skills that continues to hinder modernisation efforts for the majority of utilities”.
According to Mark de Vere White, President, Electricity, Itron, another gold sponsor at European Utility Week: “A key challenge for Europe is to accelerate the investment requirements for grid infrastructure modernisation and to enable the transition of markets to support the EU roadmap for creating a sustainable, low-carbon energy market. According to a recent EU report, investment in the general energy sector is at a historic low. On the upside, resolving this macro challenge will facilitate new markets in energy services and broad demand response solutions, as well as consumer and grid management solutions.”