Maybe Simple Minds were not my favourite music group as a teenager, but I kind of liked some of their hits. ‘Alive and kicking’ was one of those songs that I now recognize as part of my life when I was a youngster, and became a good motto to stay positive. While in Spanish there is this saying ‘mientras hay vida, hay esperanza’ (while alive, there is always hope), music in Simple Minds´ song makes it more powerful and rogue.
Alive and kicking is how I feel every day I work for Maxwind Tech., this new company founded with my partners of Hispavista. Being at the helm of this boat is both challenging and inspiring. It makes me feel well.
One of my very first assignments in Maxwind Tech. was attending an energy conference (Int. Conf. on Applied Energy – ICAE2017) in Cardiff in order to present a paper on our patented technology. On top of this, conferences are good opportunities to get a grasp of technology and market trends as listed below. I beg your pardon, but I am a wind power guy and I cannot help focusing on wind power.
- Renewable Energies are mature. I recall ongoing discussions 20 years ago outlining a maximum wind power grid penetration of around 20%. However, the so called ‘smart grids’, advances on low-voltage ride through capability of wind turbines, and energy storage made such a constraint literally vanish. Denmark is a pretty good example, but there are many others.
- Renewable Energies are competitive. Although it is widely believed that wind energy is competitive only because of subsidies, it is only a myth. Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) calculated considering operating cost, commissioning and decommissioning, as well as proper waste management shows that wind and solar power are cheaper than coal and nuclear power. For instance, the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of the new Hinckley Point nuclear power plant (UK) pays £92.50/MWh ($115/MWh), whereas PPAs in new wind farms in USA pay less than $40/MWh. Please, find further details on this nuclear power plant here, and NREL Annual Technology Baseline here, confirming that wind and solar have cheapest generation cost.
- Focus on LCOE. While before the financial crisis of 2007-2008 turbine manufacturers were rivalling for the most advanced technology, nowadays top manufacturers focus on supplying ‘good enough’ turbines that yield the cheapest energy within turbine life cycle. As a consequence, some technologies were put on hold until they do actually pay off, i.e. tuned mass dampers for wind turbine towers.
- Digital business. We have seen it in our day-to-day life: smartphones and internet changed our lives, and is also changing business. Supply chain integration, ERP packages, big data, AI and others are making companies smarter and leaner. While some companies have barely started taking early steps, it is an unstoppable change that all companies will embrace sooner or later.
- Lifetime extension of existing assets. Whereas construction of new power plants is capital intensive, there are straightforward ways to increase asset profitability. Either by improving service efficiency, or by detecting and correcting production inefficiencies, these methods yield very low marginal cost. Actually, power plant owners and certification bodies are creating specific task forces devoted to accomplish this goal.
Finding that lifetime extension is an ongoing market trend is very encouraging for Maxwind Tech., as we are helping our clients maximize our client’s power production. Here we are, alive and kicking!
P.S.: I did not take any particular good picture in Cardiff, but I visited Bristol and stopped by the Clifton Suspension Bridge while running. I love this place!