Delta-ee attended the Hannover Messe 2013 last week. The Messe is a leading global trade event, held annually in north Germany. It is actually 11 trade fairs held concurrently on the same exhibition grounds. Energy is just one of these 11 trade fairs, focusing on renewable and conventional power generation, power supply, transmission, distribution and storage.
From our Delta-ee decentralised energy perspective, Hannover Messe is a really interesting event for both micro-CHP and CHP, and it was great to talk with some of our clients and contacts while we were there, and discuss latest developments. Here are some of our observations from our time at Messe 2013.
- In overall terms the event seemed much quieter and less well attended than previous years. The Messe was only a month after ISH so perhaps this had an impact on attendance, but the nervous economic climate can’t be helping much.
- It was also very noticeable that none of the big German utilities had any major presence or large exhibition stands, a marked contrast to previous years. We see this as a symptom of the crisis these companies are facing in Germany, with the phase out of nuclear power and growing impact of decentralised power generation on their core business.
- Wind had a very strong presence in the Energy fair, as in previous years, but there was less evidence of solar PV and nothing significant on heat pumps. The smart grid forum felt quite different to 2012, with the focus being on grids/network/smart metering, and there was minimal presence of HEM vendors. This could be a reflection of the Messe 2013 overall theme of “Integrated industry” but may also indicate that many companies at the Messe see the best near term ‘smart’ opportunities on the utility side of the meter. This made an interesting contrast to the ISH fair a month earlier where it was ‘apps galore’ – see Top 5 Takeaways from ISH 2013
- For micro-CHP, the focus of the Messe is primarily on fuel cells. Many of the micro-CHP developers are participating in the Callux and/or Ene.field field trials, and some claim their product is ‘ready’ for market launch. I say ‘ready’ because this doesn’t mean we expect to see a wave of fuel cell micro-CHP products to hit the market this year. There will be some launches but these may be quite selective as some companies need to scale up production capacity and supply chains before they are really ‘ready’. Also some manufacturers are still working hard to make their products as ‘plug n play’ as possible. This is to try and negate the risk that installers will charge customers very high fees for installation. But we sense that developers who have been collaborating through the Callux programme are now gently starting to think about how they can differentiate their own fuel cell product, what makes their product special and what customers they will focus on – indicative that market competition is getting closer. For example, CFCL, which is already active in the market with its Bluegen product, is particularly focusing on maximising sales into the small, commercial market in the German state of Nordrhein Westfalen, where incentives are now available. See our latest micro-CHP research for more details on this topic.
- For CHP, the Messe provided further evidence to support our view that economic and policy drivers are helping the sector to recover from the doldrums of 2009-2010. This is especially true of mini- and small-scale CHP (in our eyes 5 to 100 kWe and 100 to 400 kWe, respectively). This increasingly dynamic sector has witnessed a number of product launches recently which are likely to challenge the incumbent ‘main players’. For example, EC Power has recently expanded their portfolio of products to include smaller 6 and 9 kWe CHP units which will surely be in direct competition with the current market leader in this segment – the 5.5 kWe Dachs unit from Senertec. Interestingly, Senertec appear to be returning fire; they are due to launch a new 20 kWe product later this year. To help our clients understand the opportunities and changing dynamics in this space, Delta-ee have recently commenced a new multi-client study focusing on gas engines (CHP and power-only applications) in the 10 to 400 KWe size range throughout Europe; you can find out more about the research here.