By 10 a.m. local time Tuesday morning, I had (beginning 14 hours earlier) ridden the Metro to Virginia, taken a bus shuttle to Dulles International Airport, flown across the ocean with a delightful Scandinavian Airways crew, traveled through three countries, and gotten my first airborne peek at an offshore wind farm in the cool, gray waters near Copenhagen.
But the wind farm sighting was just a bonus tucked into my travel day. A short hour and no fewer than three wind farms later, I arrived in Germany, where markers indicating the annual Hannover Messe conference speckled airport signs as soon as I got off the plane.
I had been forewarned of the scale of this massive event, but nothing anyone had previously told me could have prepared me for it. Walking across the seemingly endless fairgrounds with 27 halls and pavilions, building-size educational constructs and outdoor displays, I felt like I was touring a private city of scientific breakthroughs. And in fact, it’s the largest exhibition center in the world. It’s a Disneyland of innovators. It’s a Mecca for techno-nerds. It’s how I imagine the World Fairs of yesteryear.
Interestingly enough, the show began in 1947 as “Export-Messe,” a Western powers’ initiative to rebuild German industry after World War II. According to the Hannover Messe website, the British decreed that “in order to show the world the kind of economic revival that entrepreneurs, workers and politicians were capable of jointly bringing about,” the Germans were encouraged to organize a trade fair to promote the export of their goods and services. In 1950, with the addition of foreign exhibitors, the show was re-dubbed “Deutsche Industrie-Messe” (translation: “German Industrial Fair”) and by 1961 the official name “Hannover Messe” was adopted.
Since then, the show has evolved to feature exhibits across 5.3 million square feet of space from a variety of industries and sectors, with energy, power plant, digital, vacuum, automation, and micro and nano technologies all represented. Today, an estimated 148,500 visitors from 71 countries attend Hannover Messe; over 16,000 are from the energy sector alone.
The Wind Hall at Hannover Messe is home to over 260 exhibitors in wind power generation technology, components and services. Exhibitors include AWEA members such as Siemens, Brevini, Vestas, and Repower Systems, all showcasing their latest advances, concepts and products. Just yesterday on the show floor, Nordex announced the unveiling of its 6-MW wind turbine, designed specifically for offshore use. AWEA is exhibiting all week at booth location N18.