David Hickey, Head of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in Canada, will be participating in the CEO Panel Discussion “The Electricity Grid of the Future”, during the Opening Plenary Session at CanWEA on Tuesday, October 3.
We spoke to David about the upcoming conference, his views on the most significant opportunities for the wind energy sector and how Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy delivers for its customers around the world.
The CEO panel discussion during the opening plenary is focused on “The Electricity Grid of the Future”. Please tell us what audience members can expect from this session?
The panel will be very informative, given that we will have participation from a diverse group that includes Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Gaz Métro, Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Senvion USA, and Enbridge; all moderated by Robert Hornung, CanWEA’s President. I think that this will result in distinct perspectives from different aspects of the market.
The energy system in Canada is changing rapidly, often in response to new technologies. I expect the discussion to focus on the key challenges for our industry, potential disruptors – such as storage – and the qualities that energy companies will need to thrive in the future.
Some skeptics contend that renewables cause issues with the grid. It’s up to us, as an industry, to recognize these challenges and to present solutions that can help stabilize the grid. What might be viewed as a challenge today, could become a benefit in the future.
What do you see as the most significant opportunities in the short-term and what other factors come into play in the long-term outlook?
For me, the short-term opportunities for the wind energy sector are clear:
- the new 600 MW projects in both Alberta and Saskatchewan; and
- the recent RFP from the State of Massachusetts for 9.45 TWh.
Canadian companies are going to play a big part in these projects. If we can expand on these export opportunities to other parts of the Northeastern United States, it’s going to be great for the Canadian wind energy industry.
Likewise, the long-term trend for renewables is very strong. Wind and solar energy are both going to become increasingly important in the generation of power in almost every country around the world. The Alberta procurement that I just mentioned is going to set a new price point and will form the basis of new discussions in markets where opportunities for renewables did not previously exist.
Traditionally, renewables have been viewed as too expensive. However, as an industry we are proving to be extremely competitive and this is going to help the long-term growth of the industry.
The second long-term opportunity, to me, is around storage. I expect to talk more about this during the panel session, but storage is going to be a key factor for our industry, whether it’s pumped hydro, battery systems, or compressed air. Storage is going to see a lot of future investment money and, as a result, is going to grow in scale and result in significantly lower costs. This investment will also drive flexibility and increased efficiency into the energy grid, which will be a key facilitator and accelerator for renewables.
Finally, I think that North America is prime real estate for the off-shore markets and that Canada is going to have a big part to play here, as well. I’m confident that we will see an initial off-shore project in Canada in the very near future.
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy recently became a united entity. Can you tell us how this will deliver benefits to your customers?
Merging two organizations is a driver for economies of scale. We are going to have one of the largest wind fleets in the world with 75 GW, with a global presence in more than 90 countries. We can optimize our volumes and increase our purchasing power, which will help us to drive costs down. It doesn’t matter where you operate in the world, the market is extremely competitive. We are focused on lowering the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and, to do this, scale is going to be a key driver for us.
With the combined company we have double the design and performance capabilities as we now have two exceptional engineering teams working together optimizing our product design. This will result in best in class products and pricing to help ensure we keep our customers successful in extremely competitive markets.
For Operations and Maintenance, we will use the knowledge and expertise gained from our 75 GW fleet to optimize customers’ wind farm performance and use this scale to drive down our customers’ operational costs. As we now have expertise with multiple platforms, this will result in improved quality and performance; especially when working on competitors’ equipment to help us grow our service business.
What are you most looking forward to at the CanWEA Annual Conference and Exhibition?
CanWEA is always a great event. For me, it’s an opportunity for the industry to get together, to discuss the opportunities (and challenges), share new products and solutions, and provide a roadmap of what lies ahead for our industry.
Of course, it’s always good to catch up with customers, suppliers, and other vendors. I call it the ‘wind family’. Even though some of us are competitors, there is a real camaraderie in the Canadian wind industry. The networking opportunities always present a chance for informal chats with people that can be nearly as informative and interesting as the educational part of the event itself.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in the Canadian wind industry to attend CanWEA 2017.
Looking for more insight into the strategic opportunities in Canada’s energy markets?
CanWEA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition takes place October 3-5, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec. Our conference is loaded with expert speakers discussing the industry’s opportunities and challenges. Register today.
Mr. David Hickey will be a panelist in the Opening Plenary Session, “The Electricity Grid of the Future”, at CanWEA on Tuesday, October 3 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. As the Head of the Siemens Gamesa Business in Canada, David Hickey is responsible for the overall strategic management, direction and leadership for all activities in Canada.
Prior to being appointed to his current role in December 2016, Mr. Hickey was the Vice President of the Wind Power and Renewables Division of Siemens Canada. Mr. Hickey joined Siemens in 2001, and has held various leadership roles across the Wind Power Generation portfolio with an emphasis in Project Management in Canada and the United States, including Head of Proposals for the Americas region with Wind Power and Renewables based out of Orlando, Florida.
Mr. Hickey holds a Bachelor’s degree in Quantity Surveying from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. He is a tireless advocate of clean and affordable energy, and a staunch supporter of Canada’s efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. Mr. Hickey currently serves on the board of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA).