Schneider Electric and Enel back IEA call for energy efficiency and grid action at Enlit Europe

European electricity technology giants Schneider Electric and Enel joined the International Energy Agency (IEA) in their call for coordinated action on fast-tracking investment and innovation in both energy efficiency and electricity grids.

They came together at a press conference at Enlit Europe in Paris on 28 November, 24 hours before the launch of the IEA’s Energy Efficiency 2023 report.

Brian Motherway, the IEA’s Head of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Inclusive Transitions, gave an exclusive preview of the report and called for a seismic shift in commitment to energy efficiency.

“Last year in 2022, the world became 2% more energy efficient. In 2023, it’s a mixed story. Some regions got better, some not so much.

“One of our key asks for COP28 is a doubling in the rate of energy efficiency improvement for the rest of this decade. If we achieve that, it’ll be one of the biggest contributions to emissions reductions.

Motherway added: “We’ll see energy bills going down, we’ll see emissions going down, and we’ll see 4.5 million more jobs in energy efficiency right across the world. It can be done: the technologies and policies exist.”

Switching the focus to grids, Pablo Hevia-Koch, IEA’s Head of Renewables Integration and Secure Electricity Unit, warned that a lack of ambition and attention risks making grids the weak link in the energy transition.

He said grids are becoming “a bottleneck for the energy transition”, investment was “stagnant” and cautioned that a lack of further investment would “stifle renewables” while enabling a greater use of coal and gas.

The IEA’s call to action was backed by Schneider Electric and Enel, both prime stakeholders in grid and energy efficiency technologies.

Gianni Armani, Head of Enel Grids and Innovability, said that “society is simultaneously facing two major macro-trends that are shaping the role of power distribution grids”.

“On the one hand, the energy transition involves increasing electrification of consumption, alongside the growth of renewable energy production, especially distributed generation.

“On the other, climate change poses new threats to infrastructure and requires investments and new regulatory frameworks for grid planning and development.”

“At Enel, we have always been aware of the importance of grids, but now we are stepping up our investments in digitalization and modernization of our electricity networks to make them even more resilient, flexible and efficient”.

Schneider Electric’s Executive Vice President of Power Systems and Services, Frédéric Godemel, said the energy transition needs an “end-to-end focus”.

“Balancing investment in renewables with energy efficiency and the reinforcement of the grid is fundamental for the energy transition.

“Economically it’s accessible to move to energy efficiency and it is a fundamental part of the energy equation. The same goes for the grid, which needs accelerated investment and regulations, with reinforcement with both hardware and software.”

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