Editorial - VGB PowerTech Journal 6/2019

Topics that matter

The global energy landscape is changing massively and presents all players with new challenges. Particularly noticeable is the change in the power supply sector and in our future mobility. While suitable technologies for mobility are being sought today, the change in power supply is obvious. This change is associated with strategic, organisational and technical challenges as well as a dynamic that has replaced the previous, virtually predictable or foreseeable development of electrical and thermal energy supply. The three “Ds”: decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitisation are the drivers.

Whatever the challenges, the focus will always be on people to identify problems, develop strategies and implement solutions. It is concerned with strategic and organisational change, streamlining of areas, optimisation of processes and more efficient working methods in order to survive with the companies in the markets of the future.

Communication is important for these processes; the exchange of experiences and the discussion of topics, which reflect the activities and benefits of VGB PowerTech: Where can we communicate better, more efficiently and with less concentration about challenges than “on site” at events and specialist meetings of our association!

For the first half of this year, we can look back on a thematically broad and topical programme. This ranges from “maintenance in power plants” to “gas turbines and gas turbine operation” as well as “thermal waste utilisation and fluidised bed combustion” to “maintenance in wind power plants” and others. Information and summaries on all events can be found on our website or via our bimonthly newsletter.

A special focus this year will be the topic of “digitisation” in power generation. With the global spread of the Internet and the penetration of virtually all areas of life and the world of work, digitisation has changed a lot. Clouds, Industrial Internet of Things, Big Data & Smart Data are just a few of the buzzwords.

In power generation plants, the expansion of digital control systems can help optimise plant performance by reducing costs and optimising asset management. Digital systems can also play an important role in optimising decision making and supporting business processes to position themselves more efficiently. In addition, more and more power plants and power generation plants worldwide are due for refurbishment and modernisation in the next few years, which raises the question of the extent of digitisation for existing plants.

These were some of the topics discussed at the VGB workshop “Digitisation in Hydropower” in Graz, where the VGB member VERBUND impressively presented “Hydropower 4.0 – The Digital Hydropower Plant”.

The topic was tackled more fundamentally on the “digi Day: Digitisation in the Energy Value Chain” of the VGB, because here questions about digitisation were the starting point:

Does this general trend really still offer new opportunities for the energy industry or are the generation facilities not already largely digitalised today?

Will we still be able to operate our generation facilities economically in the future without using further digitalisation?

Do approaches to solutions perhaps offer a perspective that brings together “conventional” and “renewable” digitally?

What visions of the future do operators, manufacturers and service providers have?

So there are plenty of topics and questions and VGB will continue to address them for the industry. Next on the agenda will be “Digitisation” at the VGB Congress in Salzburg in September, and in October a workshop will be devoted entirely to “Digitisation in the Wind Industry”.

So it remains exciting and there are many technical topics in the energy supply to which we must and will devote ourselves in order to continue to ensure a safe and secure energy supply with the particular responsibility but also the possibilities of technology and new technologies such as digitisation.