Annual Activity Report By Nick Akins, Chairman, President and CEO, AEP and Chairman of the Board, GSEP
The members of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) have been very active from June 2020 when I assumed the chair from Enel X, and the member CEOs agreed on American Electric Power's theme “Electrification: The Bridge to a Global Clean Energy Economy and Social Advancement”. The theme initiatives were aimed to take action on the many dimensions of electrification, particularly the study results of our flagship global survey of customers and end users supported by McKinsey & Company. These end users told us how we could help them overcome barriers to electrifying more of their businesses with clean energy. I am pleased to report on these accomplishments which are designed to provide future sustainable environmental, economic and social benefits to businesses and communities in developed and developing economies.
GSEP is a CEO-led alliance of the world’s largest electricity companies committed to leading the transformation of the global electricity industry and the energy transition through accelerated clean energy electrification. GSEP CEOs and their teams share their challenges and solutions with each other and with external stakeholders based on their experience and knowledge from generating and delivering approximately 25% of all electricity consumed worldwide, of which 70% has no direct carbon emissions.
Based on our collective expertise in power systems and electricity technologies, we were confident that the electric power grid would be, and continues to be, the social safety net for all people during and after the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our experience supporting hospitals and health care workers, education, communications, vaccine testing and manufacturing and recovering businesses, among other essential services, has re-affirmed our commitment.
For us, beneficial electrification refers to furthering strong economic growth, community and social advancement, improving environmental conditions to address climate change and other challenges, developing and deploying advanced innovative technologies to help customers, creating effective partnerships, and informing and supporting enabling public policies. We believe that beneficial electrification can play an essential role as the world embraces digital solutions to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. All of our activities this year were aimed at these many dimensions of electrification. Our companies are already working in partnership with end users and other stakeholders along the entire value chain to accelerate the pace of electrification.
I appreciate the willingness of the members to support AEP's ambitious theme, to provide their insights on how we can best serve our customers and communities and to endorse bold innovative ways for GSEP to be a strategic asset for our companies now and in the future. It was a privilege to lead this organization.
Chairman, President and CEO, American Electric Power (AEP)
and Chairman of the Board, GSEP
Electric utilities can't be successful without new partnerships that facilitate solutions to end users' challenges. By collaborating with stakeholders, especially our customers and government entities, it will be possible for low-carbon, affordable, resilient and reliable electricity to be the lifeline of a modern decarbonized global community and the backbone of digital and connected cities of the future.
This is why we launched the research report “Building the electrification alliance: Bridging along and across value chains” at the end of 2020 through our first-ever virtual Electrification Dialogue. This research, led by Enel X, presents how partnerships with energy suppliers, governments, technology developers and other stakeholders can be effective in sector businesses interested in increasing their use of electricity and as a lever to provide multiple benefits to the energy systems people use in their daily activities.
Based on those results, we commissioned a key element of our work program this year: the Global Study on Beneficial Electrification where, for the first time ever, the voice of electricity end users was captured in a study to understand the conditions needed to help unlock and accelerate direct electrification of end uses in their respective sector of activity for the benefit of their business, their employees, their customers and their local communities.
This pioneering study gathered first-hand information from over 110 electricity end users through in-depth interviews, conducted across the transport, building and industry sectors over 10 countries. It provides direct insights on the pace of electrification around the world and on the underlying drivers and barriers, as well as giving examples of how electrification positively impacts end users and their communities. A strong majority of respondents identified us, electric utilities, as their partner of choice to help them switch from fossil fuels to low-carbon electricity, reduce their carbon footprint, and capture the full benefits of electrification.
We take this responsibility very seriously and we’re ready to play this role. This is why, at the occasion of GSEP’s first ever public annual CEO meeting, Enel X CEO Francesco Venturini and I co-hosted a globally broadcasted virtual event - Unlocking Beneficial Electrification - on May 26, 2021, with policymakers, technology developers, energy suppliers, business leaders and other stakeholders to launch this ground-breaking study and discuss how to act on their recommendations to overcome the barriers limiting their ability to electrify more of their businesses and ways communities can be certain to share the benefits.
This year, GSEP also launched technological communities where experts from member companies gather to share knowledge and expertise on various aspects on electrification. In order to put our expertise to work to benefit others around the world, we released two white papers: Second Life Batteries, produced by the community on storage, and The Future of Remotization in the Electric Power Industry, produced by our community on digitalization. They include the current state of these technologies and a vision for advancing their development, with the help of interested external partners.
In addition to these publications, GSEP held three webinars with our companies’ experts: Integration of variable energy sources in electric grids, in partnership with the Institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable (IFDD); Europe’s Energy Transition: Sustainable Paths for Increased Climate and Energy Ambition; and Hydro-Québec’s first islanded microgrid project in Lac-Mégantic.
We also held a five-day virtual training workshop on the operation and maintenance of electric buses. This technical workshop allowed GSEP to reach a wider audience benefiting from its expertise on electric mobility across continents.
These activities allowed us to share GSEP members’ rich expertise on electrification with stakeholders from across the globe.
As part of the Lima e-bus project, our team and experts have worked closely with the Peruvian authorities this year to share lessons learned from the integration of the first electric bus in Lima’s public transit system and facilitate the implementation of large-scale electrification across the country’s public transit systems.
GSEP also launched one of the first projects integrating batteries to the national power grid in Uruguay, which consists of the installation of distributed energy resource systems using photovoltaic panels, batteries and remote monitoring technologies in one typical dairy farm in the Colonia Delta community. The project aims at creating a learning experience for the Uruguayan power utility (UTE) leading to broader integration of batteries coupled with renewables to the grid.
These educative initiatives would not be completed without our Education for Sustainable Energy Development (ESED) scholarship program which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. 10 outstanding students from developing countries were awarded scholarships for their commitment to electrification and sustainable energy development.
We believe that the need for practitioners and researchers in the electricity and renewable energy sectors is growing rapidly around the world. This is why a new comprehensive educative program will be launched in the year to come.
Customers and end users have helped GSEP members develop a comprehensive, integrated action plan to be implemented under the leadership of ONEE, our Moroccan member, which took the Chair on May 26. This year we modernized our communications by developing new skills using digital platforms to scale up and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our future outreach initiatives. Please watch for GSEP communications about the rollout of these eight signature activities:
- GSEP original annual research on specific aspects of electrification
- GSEP regional Electrification Dialogues to share the latest cross-country electrification knowledge and experience in real time.
- GSEP innovative social, customer, and grid-facing incentive public policies that could be quickly established by legislators, regulators and other policymakers
- GSEP Technological Community experts sharing experiences and future visions for customer- and energy provider-technology solutions
- GSEP global webinars where experts share experience and knowledge about electrification aspects and take real time feedback
- GSEP utility-grade learning-by-doing together small electrification demonstration projects collaboratively developed and implemented with local in-country energy providers and other stakeholders that can be replicated and scaled up
- GSEP's expanded Education and Learning Program to include offering scholarships for students at targeted universities, developing a community of young ambassadors for global electrification, securing international accreditation for GSEP's training programs, and conducting a pilot in Morocco to establish direct partnerships with universities for developing knowledge about sustainable electrification worldwide.
Martine has decided to retire this summer after an illustrious career first with Hydro-Québec and most recently as the Executive Director of GSEP. During her tenure, she has served our CEOs very well, especially by helping GSEP to add to its traditional mission to externally become the global information hub for all the environmental, economic, and social aspects of electrification that will benefit companies, end users and communities in our home markets and elsewhere in the world. She has also facilitated the internal transformation of GSEP that our CEOs expected, to become a part of the long-term business plans of the members to keep pace with the global energy transition that is underway.
The GSEP Board of Directors is confident that her successor, Vincent-Michel Duval, will be able to be the strong leader that Martine was, to continue to be in the center of intensified activities focused on knowledge- and experience-based electrification benefits. His dual engineering and MBA degrees and experience with Hydro-Québec are important to the future of the members, to the global energy industry and to the beneficiaries of our product and services.