World leaders gathered in Paris at the COP21, the UN conference on climate change, to discuss the double challenge that the world is facing: to reduce greenhouse gases in order to address global warming, while ensuring economic growth and development. The most efficient way to achieve such a goal is through zero emissions electricity, an idea embraced by the 11 leading international power companies participating in the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (Gsep): Enel, American Electric Power, Edf, Eletrobras, EuroSibEnergo, RusHydro, Hydro-Québec, Iberdrola, Kansai Electric, RWE and State Grid Corporation of China.
The consortium took part in a two-year consultation process, leading to the report Powering Innovation for a Sustainable Future, which was presented during the meeting in Paris. The report (which analysed the evolution of the energy sector in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and India) stresses the need for awareness among industries on the risks and opportunities of climate change, highlighting the urgency to take action and offering an account on the need for innovative generation, transport and distribution technologies, as well as an efficient use of electricity.
In particular, companies are urging policy makers attending the Cop 21 to adopt four core principles:
• secure, stable, clear and consistent long-term policies that address critically important energy, legal/regulatory economic, financial and environmental matters
• a systemic approach which takes into account the interrelations and synergies between the various elements of the electricity value chain, enabling power companies to plan new technological systems
• the promotion of public-private partnerships that facilitate decision making among electricity providers, Government representatives and stakeholders
• commitment to innovative research, development and demonstrations of advanced economically viable and sustainable technologies that are able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the efficient generation, distribution and end-use of electricity
‘Technology is a key aspect for the energy transition. It is very difficult to predict how technology will evolve, but we will definitely have to be more flexible to adapt to new technologies within our business models. And this is the real innovation for utilities,’ stated Enel’s Head of Sustainability Andrea Valcalda on the sidelines of the event. ‘Micro grids and digitalization will be the main technological trend in the foreseeable future of the energy sector.’