Performing While Transforming: The role of transmission companies in the future electric grid of Latin America and the Caribbean
[Spanish Language Event]
Ensuring reliable and affordable access to electricity while working to mitigate climate change is driving dramatic transformations in energy systems globally. In collaboration with PwC, the World Energy Council published a report based on interviews with CEOs and leaders of 37 Transmission System Operators and Independent System Operators, covering more than 2/3 of the global transmission network.
Below, view a recording of the session and continue reading for a detailed account of the event.
On August 14th, 2020, the World Energy Council collaborated with PwC to host a public webinar titled ‘The Future of the Electric Grid in Latin America.’ For a registered audience of 700+ attendees, Carlos Fernandez Landa, Partner leading PwC’s Energy practice in Spain’s Advisory Division, gave a compelling introduction to the topic. He summarized the results of the recently published report ‘Performing while transforming: the role of transmission companies in the energy transition’ by highlighting several essential factors: decarbonization, decentralization, digitalization, and demand disruption. These four elements characterize the high level of complexity inherent in the central role of transmission companies play in driving the energy transition. Complementary to the four elements, Landa listed four recommendations from the study:
- Focus on the future and long-term planning.
- Transform organizations to accommodate change.
- Facilitate a reshaping of the electrical ecosystem by encouraging digital transformation.
- Ensure actors have the social license to operate.
Moderating the discussion that followed, Kathrine Simancas, the Director of Energy and Gas for ANDESCO in Colombia, asked the panelists how they would define the most significant challenges for transmission companies in the region. Andrés Kuhlmann, CEO of Transelec in Chile, used this opportunity to emphasize the need to learn how to live in a more dynamic world, integrate new renewable energy and storage technologies for decarbonization, and encourage digitalization of the grid – entailing cultural change in managing business relations as companies navigate an increasingly uncertain world. Bernardo Vargas Gibsone, CEO of ISA in Colombia, added his thoughts on the question by explaining how companies must prioritize the social license to operate and must work in concert with authorities, communities, and other industries to achieve harmony between sustainability and profitability. Marcio Szechtman, Director of Transmission for Electrobras in Brasil, rounded out the discussion by emphasizing how electricity generation is set to be distributed in the future, presenting a huge challenge for the grid as this condition will radically and irreversibly transform the market.
To address these challenges, several possible solutions were mentioned, including digitalization, attracting human talent, technological development, cultural change, understanding of the consumers, and accommodation of non-conventional renewable energies. Additionally, the promising potential for regional integration of the electric grid to provide development opportunities and overcome geopolitical barriers in Latin America was supported by each speaker. Looking towards 2050, Szechtman stressed the need to garner funding for important new projects and find a path towards a common TSO for all of Latin America. Kuhlman accentuated the need for digital flexibility to address future challenges and for building influence and trust among stakeholders. Last but not least, Gibsone called attention to the urgent need to prioritize inclusivity in the sector and find a way for everyone to work together in order to create social, political, and economic benefits in the region while managing the profound transformation of electric grids.