Ahead of his presentation on day one covering energy from waste, we caught up with Edward Thomas, Head of Performance Management at Viridor, to find out what to expect from his presentation and some of the challenges and opportunities facing engineers in this sector.
Q: Can you briefly explain your role and any involvement you have with the Institution of Mechanical Engineer’s Steam Turbine and Generator User Group?
Edward Thomas (ET): My role is to lead my team and others across the business to add value to the Viridor fleet by ensuring that the performance of new plants fully meets the standards set and then pushing the performance envelope to reach the limits of what can be achieved through optimisation and investment.
As such, we engage with a wide range of user groups across Europe as well as OEMs and other specialists to ensure we prioritise the greatest risks and opportunities in improving the business.
Q: What is the number one challenge for those using or benefitting from these technologies in today’s current market?
ET: In the market of Energy Recovery, it is to reach the levels of efficiency and reliability of larger TG units at a cost that is proportionate to their smaller scale.
The importance of efficient generation is increasing but it is only one of the drivers in our sector. We have a fuel with a negative value because we provide other services to society, namely the hygienic treatment of waste, the safe destruction of materials that cannot be recovered in the circular economy and
Q: What would you say is the most exciting development in this field currently, either within your organisation, the in the industry in general or both?
ET: The challenge of turning society’s interest in reducing the environmental impact of power generation into a reality.
This is a very exciting time to be an engineer because the enormous scale of work that is needed to provide a sustainable long-term future for society, including its energy needs. The challenge is to identify the best mix of flexibility, efficiency and cost. To optimise this, we need to engage with the wider stakeholders effectively so that the right decisions are made at all levels: site, owner and society.
Q: Where do you see the future of these assets going in the next 5 – 10 years?
ET: Our sector needs to get the right balance of reliability and performance from the design, operation and maintenance of TG sets. Initially great progress was made on base load efficiency and cost. The next challenge was to provide the flexibility to match demand as required by the grid alongside demand response and balancing functions. The next phase is to maintain all of that progress whilst also meeting the shifting environmental focus.
Q: What other topics are you looking forward to hearing about and discussing at the upcoming user group?
ET: The experience of other small and large ST users, and their supply chain, in tackling the challenges we have experienced (and the ones we haven’t encountered yet!)
Q: Why do you feel it is important for all engineers and professionals involved in these technologies to join the user group in 2020?
ET: The challenges that we all face are such that we need to ensure we have the benefit of all of the existing expertise if we are to make the progress needed. We need to ‘…stand on the shoulders of giants…’ as Isaac Newton put it.
Steam Turbine and Generator User Group 2020
STUG 2020 takes place on 18-19 March 2020 in Manchester. The event offers attendees two days of high-level technical content and knowledge sharing to support all engineers involved with steam turbine and generator equipment.
With more than 100 delegates joining in 2019, this is THE event for all those involved in the design, manufacture, operation, management and maintenance of these assets to stay up to date and benefit from the shared experience of the turbine engineering community.
The full programme is now available, with organisations presenting in 2020 to include Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Viridor, World Energy Council, SSE, Doosan, GE, Siemens and many more.
Early bird ends 26 January 2020 - for full event details and to book your place please visit the event website.