GSEP leads dialogue on "Electrifying for a decarbonized future" at Global Climate Action Summit

September 14, 2018

The Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), with the leadership of our member companies EDF, Enel and Hydro-Québec, hosted a high-level roundtable discussion on electrification and decarbonization affiliated with the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Lauded by attendees as the most comprehensive event on this topic at the Summit, our dialogue brought together utilities, policymakers, regulators, end-use industries, technology developers, labour unions, and environmental groups. Participants exchanged cutting-edge information on electrification technologies, new business models, innovative public policies, and the benefits of electrification for the environment and customers.

The discussions focused on how cross-sector collaboration can create the necessary conditions to accelerate electrification. Participants agreed that electrification is an absolutely vital pathway to decarbonize energy. By 2050, electricity is predicted to become the world's leading energy source. We will need to shift gears in order to harness its power and benefits for the climate. 

Here are some of the key discussion takeaways: 

  • The electricity space is changing very rapidly. Utilities explained how they are moving away from traditional business models and embracing collaboration with new partners like the transport, buildings, and industry sectors, start-ups, research centers etc. 
  • Electrification of end-uses is a central pillar of the energy transition. Companies believe that this revolution is going to happen quickly, driven by consumers' diverse concerns (e.g. emissions, air quality, and security of supply)
  • Accelerating innovation in technologies (e.g. energy storage) will be critical to decarbonizing the energy sector and end-uses. Participants presented current initiatives to implement electricity technologies in other industries. 
  • Massive electrification is linked to the digital revolution. This cross-sector synergy is helping to drive down costs of new technologies and services
  • Comprehensive policy reforms will be needed to tackle the rapid changes in the electricity sector. Participants discussed innovative public policies in various jurisdictions. 
  • Electrification will mean a modal shift in jobs. Ensuring a just transition for labourers and retraining labour forces for the new economy are huge challenges that utilities have already started to address, in collaboration with unions 

The roundtable discussion built on a recent GSEP report, “New electricity frontiers: Harnessing the role of low-carbon electricity uses in a digital era”, which presents the common vision of GSEP's global utilities on electrification. The report documents the actions taken by GSEP member companies to implement electrification and key policy enablers that could accelerate these initiatives. 

GSEP is an alliance of international utilities leading the radical transformation of the world's electricity sector, acting as a global hub for electrification and innovation. GSEP will be hosting a series of dialogues in cities around the world. Today, more than ever, there is a need for all players to engage in mutual learning experiences to accelerate electrification. Please consult our website or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn about future initiatives. 

Photo credit: Rebecca Wilkowski Photography