Smart Energy International Issue 5 2020


Next year in Milan…

If this year had ‘gone to plan’ we would be packing our bags in a fever of excitement and preparing for this year’s Enlit Europe. The enticing sights, sounds and flavours of Milan would be beckoning and diaries would be filling up with appointments and opportunities to meet up with friends and colleagues – both old and new.

Yet, if there is one thing that can be said about this year, it’s that nothing has quite worked out the way we thought it would. Personally, professionally, emotionally and financially, this year has been… unexpected. But there is much to be learned from the unexpected and this year has taught and demonstrated resilience in the face of uncertainty and a renewed impetus to further the digitalisation journey of the utility sector.

Our special Enlit Europe section includes commentary by a legion of industry luminaries, such as James Watson, secretary general of Eurogas, who examines the role of gas companies in achieving climate neutrality post-COVID. Peter Styles, executive vice chair of the board of the European Federation of Energy Traders, on the other hand, examines the role the wholesale power market will play in matching supply and demand and assisting local, regional and European security of supply requirements. He’s joined by Paddy Young, event director for Enlit Europe who talks collaboration, innovation and inspiration.

Young shares the Enlit vision – “to be more than a single event…to create a continually evolving online resource and community platform that is available 365 days a year.”

As usual, our Editor-in-Chief Kelvin Ross asks a ‘what if…’ question. He addresses the topic of innovation, asking ‘What if we accelerated energy innovation?” It’s a good question and one that has provided a number of responses. From: “In many countries the power sector is still too protectionist of the status quo and governments protect obsolete technologies,” to: “We are undergoing a paradigm shift” and a caution that innovation cannot occur at the expense of consumer data and privacy.

With innovation comes a need for new skills and Roberto Zangrandi, secretary-general of EDSO shares his views with Nigel Blackaby on an inclusive transition that includes reskilling the utility workforce. Speaking of transitions: the energy transition and the concept of a ‘just’ transition is the focus of our story on page 14. The concept of a just transition is not a new concept, but the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the rising inequalities for low-income consumers. Access to clean energy should not be restricted to those that can afford it – and this is a message reiterated by Kadri Simson, energy commissioner at the European Commission. Simson says: “By investing in future-oriented sectors such as clean energy, efficiency and circular economy we’re building a more sustainable resilient economy but equipped to face future shocks and we must commit to doing this by putting households and ultimately each and every one of our citizens first.”

It’s a powerful message.

There are multiple other focus areas – from Brexit to COP26 to data integration.

Despite the fact that you are not reading this in Milan, we have brought a collection of European content to you, curated in collaboration with the team from Enlit Europe and covering some of the key topics and discussion points that are top of mind. The team is focusing on providing you with all the insights you need via our various digital channels until we do get to meet up again next year. You can keep up to date by visiting our website or for more information around the digital programme.

This is, surprisingly, the last edition of the year – and I’m sure many of you are happy to see the back of 2020. It has been trying, unbelievable, terrifying, heart-breaking and a little surreal. We’d like to take this opportunity therefore to wish you a safe end to 2020 and hope that 2021 will be exhilarating, prosperous, healthy and ‘normal’ [whatever that may be].

On behalf of the whole team.

Claire Volkwyn

Editor – Smart Energy International

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