Editorial - VGB PowerTech Journal 1-2/2015

Future VGB PowerTech – Shaping the future of power and heat generation together

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The term “energy transition” refers to the dramatic and rapid change in the structure of European energy supply  processes. The economic and technical nature of these changes is profound. On the one hand – and this applies to renewable energies and conventional generation in equal measure – the aim is to operate plants economically under continually changing, market conditions. On the other hand, the technical requirements for the design, operation and technology of power plants are increasing. In this dual area of conflict, the objective is to live up to the technical responsibility for a stable and efficient power supply system, and to act economically. Power plant operators, manufacturers and suppliers, the sciences, research and development are all facing the same challenge, and will in future play a key role in securing  power supplies for consumers.

VGB PowerTech also has to face up to these challenges. As a technical association and a strong partner for the industry, VGB provides the ideal platform for shaping the transition. In times of tight budgets and lower overall levels of available funding, efficiency and cost optimisation are at the top of the agenda for VGB.

For VGB, it is also an opportunity to apply the reliable portfolio of the association, which is critical to the industry, to support the members and make a contribution to reaping the rewards of their work. This contribution to efficiency and the requirements of the market is delivered by technology that is continuously optimised with the results of the activities of and at VGB.

How VGB will make itself fit and organise itself for the future is the focus of the ongoing project “Future VGB”. The aim of VGB here is to continuously monitor the indicated scope of services, and to maintain it at the highest level possible, while simultaneously reducing expenditure and costs at all levels, and increasing efficiency. In phases that build on one another, the competences, services and structures of the association have been and continue to be analysed. This results in the identification of new structures and adaptations that are required.

Following the recent conclusion of "Phase II", we at VGB are on the right path. One of the outwardly visible results of this optimisation process is the relocation of the administrative office, which took place at the start of 2015, from the old building in Essen’s Klinkestraße to the KSG|GfS building in Essen Kupferdreh; in the immediate neighbourhood of the KWS Powertech Training Center. This relocation makes a decisive contribution to reducing costs, and in future will provide the opportunity to create synergies between the institutions in the industry.

A detailed examination of the cost reductions also shows important successes. The relocation, adjustments to the personnel structure, and further optimisation measures relating to materials costs have saved the budget of VGB PowerTech around 1 million euros from an overall budget of around 15 million, of which over 60 % is generated through the marketing of services, i.e. not through fees. We will use ongoing analysis to track potential here, in order to monitor budget requirements. Further cost reductions of about 1.25 million euros are identified and included in the business plans until 2018.

A major element of the “Future VGB" project is the reorganisation of its committee work. In close cooperation between all participants, the topics that will be relevant for members in future have been identified. The new committee structure has been adapted to this, with a reduced number of committees, and a simultaneous focus on the key themes, ensuring efficiency and cost savings, while retaining the high quality of work. Dispensing with the committee level of “General Committees” and concentrating the working panels are signs here of efficiency and reducing expenditure. Parallel to this, the “way of working” for VGB committees has been optimised. New communication pathways, adapted work formats, e.g. increased use of video conferencing, and adapted integration of the VGB administrative office and its employees are in focus as ongoing and future commitments.

The work of VGB PowerTech in the renewable energies sector will continue to be expanded. Wind energy, hydro power and biomass are focuses of VGB’s work, and  prominent milestones include activities on occupational health and safety, and the RDS-PP® Reference Designation System for Power Plants.

Fields of work for the forthcoming Phase III of “Future VGB” include the development of an optimised service portfolio for the members, the implementation of the “Technical Services” of VGB into the structures and tasks of the association, the complex of events and event organisation, and synergies at the new site of the administrative office. For the reorganised VGB, it is naturally also an objective to become more attractive to new members, and to integrate them into the community.

The objective of VGB PowerTech, to be the top service provider for technical cooperation in the power and heat generation industry in Europe and beyond, becomes clear through this active involvement in shaping the industry. Economic viability, efficiency, safety, and environmental protection are the central tasks, which can only be developed further together with a strong partner such as VGB.

Today’s tasks for the power and heat generation industry are vast, and are therefore also the tasks of VGB PowerTech, which we are working and must work to advance!