European system operators should be world leaders in smart grid revolution, says EDSO Chairman Christian Buchel at Innogrid2020+ conference

May 18, 2018

Brussels, 15 May 2018. In his opening speech at Innogrid2020+, EDSO Chairman Christian Buchel called for European system operators to deepen and accelerate their common work to become the world leaders in the smart grid revolution.

Dear Colleagues, partners, stakeholders of our companies and associations, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour to open today the seventh edition of Innogrid, alongside Mr. Voorhorst. A warm welcome to you, Mr. Deputy Minister Stankov, and to you Mr. Andoura.

Like you said, Ben, in less than a decade, the Innogrid annual event has become a not-to be-missed EU event on innovation in electricity networks, thanks to the great and ambitious collaboration of ENTSO-E and EDSO for Smart Grids, which I have the honor to represent today as their Chairman.

The reason we organize events such as Innogrid is because we both face similar challenges. And this event, through both the conferences and the presentation of some of our European innovative demonstrators and pilots, is the perfect image of how us, actors of the energy sector, in which I include all our partners, our suppliers, and the IT industry, are working together to enable the energy transition, and turn the European Union’s climate and sustainable development objectives into concrete realizations. We are confident that we will be ready for the twenties!

Much has already been done. From the R&D – I am especially glad to see here today Nikos Hatziargyriou and Konstantin Staschus, President and Vice-Chair of ETIP-SNET – to demonstrators and pilots, while staying open to external partners and stakeholders. We have worked together during the past years to foster the energy transition and play our role as neutral enablers. We have managed to proactively embrace digitalization as a must in the energy grid sector and many of our companies have successfully launched their digital transformation. We have proved through various European projects that collaboration within our sector was possible, fruitful and key to foster innovation. We have, to illustrate this, on this day more than 20 projects with EU added value taking part in this conference and networking exhibition to present their final reports and recommendations.

But a lot remains to be done, and we must now deepen and accelerate our common work to adapt our industries for the future neutral, reliable, affordable energy sector, in which the customer will be at the center!

We see it these days on a political level with the crisis around Israel and Iran: Europe can and must play a vital role in the world of tomorrow. This should also be the case for the energy, security (including cybersecurity) and climate challenges : Europe must have the ambition to be on the forefront of this new  world, and we in the energy infrastructure sector have to make it possible : neutral CO2 emissions, reliable, affordable and secure availability of electricity for everyone including prosperous industries, comfortable and connected housing, healthy urban centers, clean mobility including electric vehicles and autonomous and shared vehicles will redefine our industry.

The European electricity network operators are collectively committed to make this possible! I will only mention here three examples to demonstrate it:

  • First: DSOs and TSOs cooperation is now trustful and active regardless of our differences; we DSOs are therefore very pleased that the TSOs support the creation of an EU DSO Entity, which will provide the legislators and regulators with our expertise and competences, for the benefit of all.
  • Secondly, we keep deeply in mind that constant innovation is an absolute must. Innovation, digitalisation and cybersecurity are a survival condition for both our grids and our companies and a huge opportunity to export and develop our knowledge outside of Europe and especially in emerging countries; have a look during this event at our innovative projects, demonstrators and pilots: you will see from up close the next decade’s challenges for the power grids and the way we are facing them as a future oriented industry.
  • Finally, the Clean Energy Package for all Europeans, for which the debates are entering trilogue discussions, will prove to be key for the decades to come. EDSO4SG strongly believes that it is a real opportunity for DSOs to have more room to manage a more flexible, decentralized and digitized energy system. As actors of the energy sector, we work closely together so that the Package paves the way for Europe to become the world leader in the energy sector ; we as DSOs will play a more and more active role, especially because we are closely connected to the consumers and because our roots are deeply planted in the decentralized territories. To play this role, I say it clearly and with some solemnity : we as DSOs need a strong, agile and industrially driven EU DSO Entity, on an eye to eye level with ENTSOE ; we expect and we are confident that the coming trilogue will make this a reality.

As I often say, we in Europe definitely lost the worldwide internet revolution. Internet giants are today in China and in the US.  We now have the opportunity to win the smart grid revolution and become world leaders. We bring together the best of the industrial and digital worlds. We are aware that agility, hiring new skills while renewing our existing ones, are key challenges for our companies. But we will handle it and will succeed; we are going to get ready for the twenties!

Thank you Suzanne and Roberto for the organization.

I wish for all of you two very informative and inspiring days at Innogrid. Thank you.