I spent the better part of last week in Las Vegas at Power-Gen 2009. Though smaller in footprint than its equivalent construction expos, Power-Gen is their equal in importance to the power industry, but similar to other events this year, last week’s Power-Gen was markedly smaller, both in exhibit space and attendance, than its recent predecessors. Even more obvious was the list of prime exhibitors who gave this year’s show a pass … General Electric, Caterpillar, and Generac, for example.
Yet, despite the outward appearance of doom-and-gloom, the overall impression I got from the people with whom I spoke was one of cautious optimism for the year to come. Even the specters of Tier 4 (Interim) in 2011 and Tier 4 (Final) in 2014 didn’t seem to dampen the mood to any appreciable extent (though one of the presenters I listened to suggested that meeting Tier 4 (Final) requirement might raise the cost of diesel engines from 65 to 90 percent above the current level).
Undoubtedly, some of the optimism was the result of some stimulus funding beginning to find its way into the system, but I sensed that an even greater impetus came from the belief that government intervention was neither the author nor solution to the challenges we face. As one attendee—an energy consultant—said to me, “We’ve had our heads stuck in the sand for 50 years, so it’s high time we faced up to the fact that our energy systems and approaches are way out of date.”
So how do you react to this sense of optimism for the future, particularly in light of the prophesied leap in the cost of Tier 4 (Final) engines for off-highway use?