“We offer a view into the entire energy market”

Interviewed by Tim Altegör, 20 Mar 15
…says Benjamin Low, director of the energy and wind sections of Hannover Messe. In light of this integrated approach, Low does not regard Hamburg or other wind fairs as competitors to Hannover.

new energy: What is new in Hannover this year, and what is your main focus in the renewables sector?

Benjamin Low: The concept of Hannover Messe, both in recent years and for the coming editions, is to focus on the energy mix of the future. Our unique selling point is that we connect power generation to topics like energy storage, smart grids or e-mobility. Electric cars are only environmentally friendly if we get the energy from renewable sources. Our highlight is the complete system perspective. What is new is the emphasis on decentralised structures but of course many of our exhibitors will also be presenting their newest products for the first time.

new energy: After a break in 2014, this year Hannover will once again feature a wind fair. Doesn’t that mean separating the different sectors?

Benjamin Low: It’s good that you asked because there is a lot of misunderstanding in the market about the wind part. It was created back in 2009, when turbine producers wanted to raise awareness of the topic in media and politics. Since then, wind power has moved on from being a new up-and-coming form of power generation to being a normal and important part of the energy mix. Wind may still be listed separately, but it belongs to the energy area.

new energy: Then why not integrate it permanently?

Benjamin Low: It is already integrated, but I repeat, we do this simply to raise awareness of the topic in general. Of course, we are in constant discussions with our exhibitors as to what they require and after this year’s fair we will continue this strategic dialogue.

new energy: There is huge competition amongst trade fairs in the sector these days, with everyone saying that WindEnergy Hamburg had a good start last year. How do you assess the overall situation?

Benjamin Low: We don’t see ourselves as competitors to Hamburg. They do an explicit wind fair, which is different from what we offer: a view into the entire energy market. From topics such as power-to-gas to decentralised energy supply, Hannover is the best place for that.

new energy: Hamburg has also integrated storage…

Benjamin Low: That may well be but we have over 300 exhibitors from more than 25 countries in the storage and mobility area of our energy fair. For the wind industry it is no longer just about power generation, but rather about dealing with issues such as grid stability. So our intention in displaying the complete system is to address these issues and showcase solutions. I believe that can only be done in Hannover.

new energy: What trend do you see in terms of visitors and exhibitors this year?

Benjamin Low: Our prognosis at the moment is that we are going to have more exhibitors than in 2013 at Hannover Messe. We are looking at 6,500 exhibitors for the whole fair on approximately 230,000 square metres. For the energy area, we are expecting roughly 1,300 exhibitors on 42,000 square metres. That would be about the same level as in 2013. That year, we had an estimated 89,000 visitors to the energy areas.

new energy: Germany saw a major boom in wind energy in 2014. On your website you ask: How long will it last? What is the mood like among exhibitors?

Benjamin Low: As far as we can tell from our talks and discussions, the mood is still very positive at the moment. For the next one and a half years, everyone feels more or less comfortable. But everyone is also a bit uneasy about 2017, with the tender models proposed by the government. There is a lot of uncertainty about what will follow. It is going to have quite an effect on the market. On Wednesday 15 April we are organising an afternoon of discussions and speeches on the ramifications of such a model and its effects on future investment possibilities.

new energy: Do you see a shift in focus markets on an international scale?

Benjamin Low: I think German wind power producers are still offering a good deal for the German market, but at the same time many are keeping an eye on and expanding into international markets like China, the Unites States, or Turkey – especially given the proposed tenders and the new restrictions in Bavaria.

new energy: What about India, this year’s partner country at the trade fair?

Benjamin Low: India has a huge interest in energy topics, especially the modernisation of its infrastructure. Prime Minister Modi will bring more than 90 high-ranking delegates to the fair. For the industry that is a great opportunity to make contact with Indian company bosses. There is still a lot of work to do for companies to be able to say “this is a country we can safely invest in”. With the new government, there are high hopes for what could potentially be a very interesting market.