International power utilities, highly specialised service providers, gas network operators, market analysts, start-ups with innovative approaches, energy traders, IT companies, municipal utilities, renowned research institutes, even the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima – the list of exhibitors at this year’s E-world goes on. With 813 exhibitors from 25 nations, Europe’s leading trade fair set a new record for the energy industry. The range of companies was remarkable. Large corporations rubbed shoulders with medium-sized businesses across from start-ups with a handful of employees exhibiting their solutions.
The showcased projects also reflected this diversity and ranged from new fast-charging stations for electric vehicles, to digital trading platforms, to AI forecasting tools for wind farm operators all the way to streetlamps fully equipped with Wi-Fi, parking displays and e-bike charging functionalities.
With the topics Smart Cities & Climate Solutions, the fair has set the focal points that move the energy industry. Niels Ellwanger, Chairman of the Board at con|energy ag
And yet, as different as these approaches may seem, they share the same credo: harness digitisation to make for a climate-friendly and sustainable energy supply. Producers and consumers should be efficiently interconnected in order to save energy for this purpose.
“E-world is the perfect place to experience technologies and solutions for tomorrow’s energy system, today,” declared Andreas Pinkwart, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, whose plan for the first day of the show was to focus on learning more about start-ups’ business ideas, among other things.
In tandem to the trade fair, experts also took to the stage at the concurrent congress to discuss topics such as ‘Hydrogen – Solutions for the Energy Transition’ and ‘Decarbonisation of Heat Generation’. Fittingly, attendees could also learn more about the world’s first pilot plant for fossil-free steel production using hydrogen. Another key trend which featured heavily throughout the show was the topic of long-term electricity supply contracts, known as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) – for operators of renewable energy production assets.
Hosted by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Energy Leadership Meeting, which traditionally takes place the day before e-world, focussed on forecasts for the energy world of tomorrow. High-ranking representatives from business and politics discussed the necessary restructuring of the energy system in order to achieve climate protection goals. RWE’s CFO Markus Krebber also addressed the issue of German renewables in a discussion with SZ’s NRW correspondent Benedikt Müller.
We felt that for four or five years we were only discussing shutting down. Now we are discussing again that the expansion is making progress. Markus Krebber, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) RWE AG
Krebber explained that RWE would not only like to invest in German projects, but also has concrete plans to do so. However, “one mustn’t forget that international businesses in particular will be on the look-out for the most attractive framework conditions. They will then use this information to decide which region they should invest in.” But Krebber has noted a fundamental shift in Germany’s mentality. “For the last four or five years, it was as if all anyone could talk about was decommissioning. Now, we are also discussing strategies to drive expansion.”
The wide range of products exhibited at the trade show and its concurrent congress attracted a considerable crowd. According to the organisers, more than 25,000 visitors were in attendance across the three show days, around 24,000 of whom were registered trade visitors. VIP guests, press representatives and influencers were also present. “74 percent of the trade visitors are decision makers. This shows just how important e-world is for the European energy sector”, explained Oliver P. Kuhrt, Managing Director of Messe Essen. To which Niels Ellwanger, CEO of con|energy ag, the second organiser, added, “The high proportion of decision-makers shows that e-world attracts experts, who can help to propel the energy transition forward.”
And a growing number of these specialists is travelling in from abroad: Almost one in five visitors to the trade fair had made the trip from outside Germany, with a notable contingent coming from Great Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands. On Wednesday, the Day of Consulates, participants even travelled all the way from Israel, Kuwait and Cuba, to name but a few.
The organisers were very happy with the numbers of both exhibitors and visitors. “It was a very successful e-world. The industry is looking for – and is also finding – tangible solutions for the energy supply of the future, right here in Essen”, said Kuhrt. “By focussing on issues such as smart cities & climate solutions, the trade show has made waves throughout the energy industry,” replied Ellwanger.
Photo credit: © MESSE ESSEN GmbH