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Opinion: Why we need cross-sector collaboration to power electrification progress

In this opinion piece, GSEP Executive Director Vincent-Michel Duval explains the need for collaboration along the value chain to accelerate electrification and deliver its wide-reaching benefits to communities around the world.

Vincent-Michel Duval

As we race to mitigate climate change and advance the energy transition, electrification is a pivotal mechanism for decarbonizing the energy sector and the global economy. As our pioneering report, the Global Electrification Monitor, finds, the pace of electrification currently lags far behind what will be needed over the coming decades to attain Paris Agreement targets and limit warming to 1.5°C. The monumental task of accelerating electrification to the needed level on a global scale is far too vast for power utilities and governments alone. Therefore, the need for cross-sector collaboration between utilities, equipment providers, governments, and other stakeholders along the value chain is essential.

Cross-sector collaboration involves uniting diverse stakeholders with varied levels of expertise and resources to collectively advance electrification. Stretching beyond cooperation, concrete partnerships can drive innovation, enable knowledge sharing, and identify solutions to common challenges.

Just a few of the wide-reaching benefits of a collaborative approach to electrification include:

    1. Knowledge sharing and resource leveraging: Pooling expertise and resources allows stakeholders to accelerate technology deployment by leveraging proven business cases and even developing new ones, thereby facilitating faster adoption of electrified solutions across sectors.
    2. Improved scalability: Collaborative efforts drive the scalability of electrification projects, allowing them to reach broader markets and communities across geographies and sectors. Such scalability is essential for achieving widespread impact and fostering a truly global transition.
    3. Access to innovation: Collaboration facilitates the exchange of information regarding innovative business models, technologies, and best practices. This enables stakeholders to stay up to date on the latest developments and effectively implement the most cutting-edge solutions.
    4. Addressing barriers and finding solutions: Collaborative exchanges bring together stakeholders in open discussions, through which they can identify common barriers to electrification and share success stories for overcoming them. Such an approach to collective problem-solving accelerates progress by enabling learning from experiences in different regions and sectors rather than working in silos.
    5. Integration of efforts: Cross-sector collaboration promotes the integration of electrification and decarbonization efforts across sectors and countries, developing synergy between independent initiatives. Working together in this way can maximize global impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    While the benefits of cross-sector collaboration are substantial, challenges such as conflicting interests, competitiveness concerns, and regulatory disparities are inevitable. For many business leaders, sharing knowledge in a competitive landscape may seem counterintuitive. However, these hurdles should not deter stakeholders from engaging in collaboration, as the potential benefits for society outweigh the challenges for individual entities. Furthermore, alignment on common issues such as supply chain and workforce can help stakeholders mitigate risk and align on strategies to all parties’ mutual benefit.  

    As the urgency to accelerate electrification intensifies, scaling up cross-sector collaboration is a key pathway to achieving this goal. Joining forces can enable utilities, equipment providers, and other stakeholders to amplify their impact, drive innovation, and pave the way for a sustainable energy future. Through our activities and projects, GSEP is helping our members foster concrete collaboration to better navigate the complexities of the energy transition and deliver  efficient, secure, affordable electrification to communities worldwide. Ultimately, as we work to bring together various stakeholders in open dialogues and concrete collaboration initiatives, we aim to do our part in contributing to maximize the environmental and social benefits of the energy transition.

    Read more about the need to accelerate electrification in the Global Electrification Monitor