Leading electricity distribution operators launch global initiative to boost the energy transition

Global electricity distribution operators (DSOs) gathered on 26-27 January 2021 in the first sectoral initiative focused on their contribution to worldwide decarbonisation efforts. The roles and responsibilities of DSOs across the globe are rapidly evolving to deliver, and even accelerate, the energy transition. Against this backdrop, the key aspects of a successful transformation are the uptake of digital solutions, the deployment of resilient infrastructure and the re-training of personnel, as well as the implementation of an ambitious regulatory environment.

In 2020, distribution system operators consolidated their position, ensuring a reliable and stable electricity supply, as well as quality services for their consumers across both hemispheres. As the electrification process intensifies, the world of DSOs becomes more complex. There is an increasing need to maintain the security of supply and reliability of electricity, whilst integrating massive shares of distributed energy sources, connecting grid-edge technologies and actively engaging with consumers. This will require an increase in investments and new strategies.

Fostering a resilient power system

Grids are exposed to climate change and are severely impacted by the polarisation of weather phenomena. The promise of a cleaner future relies on the ability to replace aging infrastructure with solutions that can withstand increasingly extreme weather events. Their deployment, however, must be coupled with the uptake of innovative digital technologies that enable operators to better monitor and manage the grids.

The integration of AI and machine learning will certainly help the processes, enabling real-time observations, better balancing and improving grid responsiveness in an increasingly interconnected energy system. Going forward, there will be growing need for training programmes that improve, and build on the current skillsets.

 Aligning ambitions and regulations

DSOs are undergoing unprecedented transformations, due to their central role in the energy transition. As major global economies converge towards intense decarbonisation, the regulatory frameworks should seek to incentivise a fast paced-transformation. An adequate design, developed in close collaboration with DSOs and consumers, could enable the necessary investments and forge new business models exploiting the benefits of decarbonisation, decentralization and digitalisation. 

About the conference

The first global conference of leading electricity distribution operators was co-organised by E.DSO, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and Eurelectric, at the initial idea of Enel GI&N and Rosseti. It gathered speakers from Europe, China, India, Russia and the Americas, with the ambition to build on their experience and foster cooperation to boost the energy transition.

The Eastern hemisphere perspective was conveyed by the keynote speakers and panelists including : João Torres, CEO, EDP Distribuição; Vice-Chair, E.DSO; Antonio Cammisecra, Head, Global Infrastructure & Networks, Enel; Andrey Mayorov, First Deputy Director General and Chief Engineer, Rosseti, PJSC; Kristian Ruby, Secretary General, Eurelectric, Roberto Zangrandi, Secretary General, E.DSO; Mark McGranaghan, Vice-President Innovation, EPRI; Knud Pedersen, Chair, Radius; Chair, Eurelectric Distribution & Market Facilitation Committee; Konstantin Mikhaylik, Deputy Director General for Digital Transformation, Rosseti, PJSC; Johan Mörnstam, Senior Vice President of Energy Networks Europe, E.ON; Sanjay Banga, President for Transmission and Distribution, Tata Power; Zhang Quan, Chief Engineer of State Grid Energy Research Institute (SGERI) ; Hervé Champenois, member of the Management Board, Enedis; Brian Motherway, Head of the Energy Efficiency Division, International Energy Agency and Christian Buchel, Director for Territories, Customers and Europe, Enedis;

The Western hemisphere perspective was presented by Antonio Cammisecra, Head, Global Networks & Infrastructure Enel; Christian Buchel, E.DSO Chair; Director for Territories, Customers and Europe, Enedis; Maria Pope, President and CEO, Portland General Electric; Kenny Mercado, Executive Vice President, Electric Utility, CenterPoint Energy; Rob Sheridan, DSO Roadmap Development, National Grid US;  Anthony Marone, President and CEO, Avangrid Networks; John Borchert, Senior Director Energy Policy, Central Hudson Gas & Electric; John Lee, Senior Director, Xcel Energy; Rafael Lazzaretti, Distribution Commercial Director, CPFL Brazil; Maude Gauthier, Network Strategy Manager, Hydro Quebec.

The documents of the event (agenda, presentations, polling results) are available here and you can watch again the event here.