Global electricity leaders at COP22: electricity, innovation key to successful implementation of the Paris Agreement

November 15, 2016


The Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), in collaboration with its member companies Électricité de France (EDF), Enel and Hydro-Québec, led a breakfast roundtable today in Marrakech, Morocco during the United Nations COP22 Climate Change Conference. The roundtable discussion brought together forward-thinking players of the global electricity sector who shared their views on how electricity can reduce the carbon footprint, as well as the key elements needed to help countries meet their nationally determined contributions and the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Mr. Daniele Agostini, Head of Low Carbon and European Energy Policies at Enel emphasized the importance of innovation as a powerful enabler of the energy transition. “Digitalization will play a key role in managing renewables and distributed generation,” said Agostini. “Customers will represent millions of small plants. This fuel substitution will entail an increase in the value of transmission and distribution networks and infrastructure. The change is not only technological but also cultural. Efforts are needed to create a favourable regulatory environment to accelerate R&D and take into account this proliferation of new generators.”Ms. Claude Nahon, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Development at EDF opened the discussions by speaking about the need for electricity companies to adopt a long-term vision in order to play a leading role in decarbonization. “EDF’s strategy for 2030 is about three main axes. The first one is a digital revolution which is changing the relationship with our customers, empowering them to be owners of their technology. The second is decarbonizing the electricity mix. We can demonstrate today that decarbonized electricity is available and affordable. The third is innovating in financing renewable energy. Green bonds are now part of our toolbox.”

To decarbonize even further, electricity companies can also extend their actions to related sectors, such as transportation electrification.

Mr. André Besner, Head of Sustainable Development at Hydro-Québec, shared his company’s decarbonization strategy which focuses on transportation electrification, exportation and R&D in storage technologies. “Hydro-Québec is a utility that is already 99.8% renewable. However, we are also contributing to transportation electrification, as the transportation sector accounts for over 40% of the province’s emissions. We are also exporting a significant amount of our renewable energy to neighbouring markets. This is our contribution to decarbonization and helping to transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Mr. Besner. “Finally, we partner with leaders in the sector to develop battery storage technologies that can help us move further towards decarbonization.”

Participants emphasized the role of GSEP as an organization that provides a unique platform of exchange for forward-thinking players in the electricity sector. Electricity will be at the heart of the response to the climate challenge while ensuring economic development and growth worldwide.

Mr. Brice Lalonde, Special Advisor on Sustainable Development to the UN Global Compact and former UN Assistant Secretary-General, concluded the conference by emphasizing the importance of mobilizing business in the energy transition. Other organizations prominent in the field of sustainable energy development such as the Observatoire Méditerranéen de l’Énergie, the Institut de la francophonie pour le développement durable and the Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute also shared their perspectives at today’s conference.