From May 19th to 21st, 2019, representatives of the European electricity industry met in Florence, Italy, for the annual Eurelectric Power summit. With the completion of the Clean Energy Package dedicated to electricity, the sector wants to lead the energy transition and is committed to decarbonize the economy, in line with the Paris Agreement.
Opening the conference, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said that "a strong link between the industry and the environment is needed to provide answers to the climate challenge, in terms of water and air quality, employment and immigration".
Political, technological and industrial leadership to lead the energy transition
The leadership of the sector in all its dimensions was at the heart of the discussions of this annual conference. In technological terms, the sector has the necessary levers – and at a competitive cost – to achieve its complete decarbonization "well before 2050". In industrial terms, the acceleration of the electrification of the economy, particularly transport, buildings and industry, will enable the transition to a carbon-neutral European economy.
The way forward is now well identified by all stakeholders, including the European Commission, which has placed electrification at the center of its long-term strategy to decarbonize the European economy. To achieve this, many speakers from the economic and academic worlds stressed that the electricity sector must now show leadership to implement this strategy and win the support of citizens.
In search of new business models
The electricity sector recalled the key challenges it is facing, the well-known "4D": Decarbonization, Decentralization, Digitalization and Democratization. The issue of the social acceptability of the energy transition has been given special attention. While the technologies and services of tomorrow exist and are known (vehicle-to-grid, flexibility, self-consumption...), we now need a new paradigm that stems from the needs and expectations of consumers in order to fully engage them in the energy transition. When asked whether energy companies would ever provide services only and not only energy, one third of the participants answered positively.
The digitalization of the sector and the new role of data were at the heart of discussions to enable this evolution. Smart meters and electric vehicles generate large volumes of data. However, this data is currently being recorded and stored but rarely used to its full potential. The role of distribution system operators in this respect was highlighted. At the heart of this complex process, DSOs that have already begun their transformation into a platform role are one of the answers to developing the services of tomorrow.
Finally, a session was devoted to the new "DSO Entity". The work carried out by the DSO associations to set it up will be sent to the Commission by the end of 2019...
Vattenfall takes over as President of Eurelectric
The annual convention was also the opportunity to formalize the new presidency of Eurelectric for the next two years. Magnus Hall, CEO of the Swedish energy company Vattenfall, succeeds Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel. Presenting his priorities for the next two years, Mr. Hall recalled the dual challenge of successfully decarbonizing the economy in Europe on the one hand and ensuring a fair transition for consumers on the other hand. As an active member of Eurelectric involved at the European level, UFE will support the new presidency in its efforts to decarbonize the electricity sector by 2045, support the electrification of the economy and promote a market framework that favors low-carbon investments at the lowest cost.