First meeting of VGB Technical Committee – 27-28 May 2019

News from “Future Energy System”, VGB Offices, Essen, Germany.
A memorandum of understanding between IEACCC and VGB allows us to attend the VGB technical committee (TC): “Future Energy System”. This has been formed from the amalgamation of three other bodies, including the technical group (TG): “Power Plant Concepts” and another TG and a TC that centred on renewables generation and energy storage.
VGB attends our Executive Committee meetings. The new, expanded committee will provide enhanced value to VGB and the members from sharing information on a wider range of technologies. This meeting, hosted by VGB at their Deilbachtal offices on the outskirts of Essen, was essentially to define the future work of the TC.

After the welcome, Dr Then, Executive Director, VGB, presented on “VGB100 vision and the energy system of the future”, which is a strategic project that has examined approaches used in the past, in order to formulate a forward plan for the organisation. VGB will remain technically focused, and not participate in political lobbying. However, it will be active in communicating factual data to inform policymakers. Matters covered will include variable renewable generation, despatchable generation and sector coupling (energy transformation technologies such as power-to-X), to aid the transition to low or zero carbon generation. Communication between experts will be facilitated. The new TC will cover all these areas.

He finished his presentation by describing the introduction of plans by VGB for a white paper, through which operators will express their collective view on future systems. VGB itself has no preferred technologies and will remain technically neutral.

There followed two guest lectures. The first gave first results of a study “Decarbonisation pathways for Europe”, presented by Martin Schönberg, of Eurelectric. This was a study, completed last November by McKinsey consultants, of three scenarios for differing degrees of direct electrification, up to 60%, with degrees of decarbonisation up to 95%, by 2045, and covered the whole European economy.

The second presentation, entitled, in its headline, “Flexible flexibility”, on the battery systems being installed at power plants, was given by Dr Lehmann, of STEAG Energy Services GmbH. An increasing and major role for batteries was expected, as one of the ways of facilitating the energy transition. STEAG began R&D on the battery systems in 2009, with first commercial use in 2016.

The guest lectures were followed by accounts of the TC’s predecessor bodies’ activities by the groups’ chairmen, in preface to the next day’s breakout sessions to formulate plans for the new TC.

The meeting resumed the next day with round the table self-introductions by the attendees, with their suggestions on how they could contribute and how the TC could benefit them. This was followed by the formal business of election of a chairman for the committee. Mr Carsten Hendricksen, from Orsted, and chair of the preceding Power Plant Concepts TG, was elected unopposed.

The breakout working sessions were based on a café format (small brainstorming groups at separate tables, with rotation of participants between sessions), to develop ideas for the TC’s scope of technologies, activities and potential stakeholders. These many ideas, summarised by the VGB representatives, will guide future activities of the TC.

The next meeting will be held in Essen, later in the year.