Grand Opening of the 2021 CIGRE Virtual Centennial Session

august 23, 2021

On August 20, the grand opening of the 48th CIGRE Session, dedicated to the centennial anniversary of the organization, took place. Due to restrictions COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held in virtual format. ELECTRIC POWER. Transmission and Distribution journal, being an official media partner of the Virtual Centennial Session, followed the event with interest.

In his welcoming speech to the gathered participants of the Virtual Session, Michel Augonnet, CIGRE President, thanked everyone for their understanding and support in the current challenging situation, as well as for active participation: during first two days of the Virtual Session, more than 1,500 people took part in the events on all virtual platforms.

Since, this year, CIGRE celebrates its 100th anniversary, Michel Augonnet reminded the audience of the main milestones of CIGRE establishment and growth over the century and the key stages of the world electric power industry development. Thus, CIGRE actively contributed to the achievement of the following objectives in various years:

  • 1921 - electrification after the end of World War I;
  • 1940s - development of high-voltage networks during and after World War II;
  • 1960-70s - development of ultra-high voltage networks;
  • 1980s - development of AC and DC energy connections for long-distance energy transmission;
  • 1990s - separation of energy systems in relation to new market mechanisms;
  • 2000s - renewable energy integration into energy systems;
  • 2010s - development of intelligent networks and digital transformation of energy systems.

In modern reality, global electric power industry faces new challenges. The industry, particularly the grid complex, must become drivers of a new energy transition to a low-carbon industry and energy consumption system. CIGRE, understanding the significance of these changes for the entire world, bring together all key experts from around the world and actively contribute to the development of appropriate solutions and acceleration of their implementation.

Baoan Xin, Executive Chairman of State Grid Corporation of China, made a report on the development of a new energy system to facilitate the energy transition. Mr. Xin praised the role of CIGRE in the development of the world electric power industry: CIGRE experts have always found a reasonable balance between technology, economics, social and environmental aspects. State Grid Corporation of China is sharing these values and actively working on creation of the energy system of the future. The company introduces the most progressive solutions and is ready to contribute to the dissemination of best practices around the world.

As for decarbonization achievements, more than 1000 GW of global renewable electric power capacity will be developed around the world, including more than 100 GW in China. Solar and wind plants are expected to generate more than 70% of global electricity by 2050. The final structure of energy consumption will also undergo significant changes. Consumers will use electric energy more than fossil fuels. This trend is already apparent in the automotive industry.

The second significant direction of development is digitalization. All kinds of digital tools are now implemented throughout the energy sector, ensuring global integration of all processes and creating new opportunities for energy saving and interaction between different energy agents.

The third vector of energy systems development is increased flexibility. The development of energy storage systems and power electronics allows to optimize networks, diversify the directions and periods of energy transmission, connect and operate variable energy sources and consumers (renewables, electric vehicles, etc.).

The pace of energy systems transformation towards green technologies is unprecedented today. The task for energy experts around the world is to use the entire arsenal of the best technical solutions to modernize systems of their countries and create new energy links at international and intercontinental levels.

Grid complex is a key part of energy systems transformation. For many years, State Electric Grid Corporation China has taken a proactive position regarding the modernization of electric networks, including development of energy storages systems and implementation of modernization roadmap. It is planned to allocate $350 billion for infrastructure modernization until 2030. Also, $46 billion will be invested in new research developments.

In conclusion, Mr. Xin expressed confidence that development and improvement of electric power systems has no boundaries. He also encouraged energy specialists and managers to unite, using media capabilities of CIGRE to develop and implement the most effective solutions.

The ensuing panel discussion on renewable energy for achieving climate neutrality brought together representatives from all continents.

The discussion was moderated by Konstantin Staschus, ENTSO-E Innovation Director, Guidehouse Energy Germany Director. Gauri Singh, IRENA Deputy Director General, presented an overview of new opportunities. Seema Gupta, Powergrid Executive Director and CIGRE India Vice President expressed the point of view of specialists from Asia and Oceania region. Sengui Appollinaire Ki, WAPP Secretary General, represented countries of Africa. North America was represented by Arshad Mansoor, EPRI CEO. Hakon Borgen, Head of Technology and Development at Statnett, represented European specialists. South America was represented Maria Nohemi Arboleda, XM CEO. Finally, Ahmed Ali-Ebrahim, GCCIA Director General, represented countries of the Middle East.

All the speakers noted the fact that development of renewable energy sources is the only way to ensure growing electricity demand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize global climate situation.

Discussion participants felt that the efficient use of green energy is only possible with comprehensive modernization of electric power complex, which includes creation of large energy links, implementation of hybrid energy storage and generation systems, mass introduction of digital technologies and services, restructuration of energy markets, etc.

Companies and countries on each of the continents are ready for huge investment costs of such an energy transformation. At the same time, it will not only solve the global climate problem, but it will also create many new job opportunities, which is relevant in the context of growing world population.

Read more on world experts opinions and ideas expressed during the panel discussion in the next issue of ELECTRIC POWER. Transmission and Distribution journal (No. 5(68), September-October 2021).

ELECTRIC POWER. Transmission and Distribution journal will continue to provide coverage of all significant events within the framework of CIGRE 2021 Session.

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