Global Collaboration Needed to Achieve Clean Energy Systems Post-COVID-19
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Global Collaboration Needed to Achieve Clean Energy Systems Post-COVID-19

Global Collaboration Needed to Achieve Clean Energy Systems Post-COVID-19

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) CEO Mike Howard told global energy leaders this week that lower carbon emissions and consumption during the pandemic have provided momentum for an integrated energy system underpinned by new technology and fueled by diverse clean energy resources.

In a virtual meeting hosted this week by the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C., Howard told Italian Ambassador to the U.S., Armando Varricchio, "We have a tremendous challenge before us. We have to work globally, collaboratively, with a sense of urgency."

Other participants included: Sally Benson, Director of the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy; Robert Armstrong, Director of the MIT Energy Initiative; Marco Margheri, Senior Vice President of ENI for International Relations; and Enrico Viale, Director of Enel North America.

The discussion was moderated by Rachel Frazin, a reporter for The Hill newspaper.

During the meeting, speakers examined challenges posed by the so-called 3Ds: decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization of production, distribution, and consumption of energy in the post-COVID world.

"The one thing the pandemic has shown is that we can accelerate the adoption of new technologies—and EPRI is at the center of this transition," Howard said. "Digital technologies—coupled with advancements in artificial intelligence—will help us find ways to better understand data and use it to more effectively meet energy needs."

Building on the momentum of lower emissions and reaching for carbon neutrality by 2050 is a theme that Ambassador Varricchio said would be central during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-26) in Scotland next November.

Howard told Ambassador Varricchio and stakeholders that the economy—across sectors—has pivoted from analog to digital virtual operations during the pandemic in a timeframe that would have otherwise taken years. Technology and innovation support continuity in business operations.

In a statement, Ambassador Varricchio echoed Howard's remarks. He said these are "goals that Italy will focus on during 2021, both in the framework of the G20 Presidency and of the COP26 co-Presidency."

The Ambassador said, "In this field, too, Italy and the USA can make a decisive contribution thanks to the investments made by the private sector in the development of clean technologies and the work of numerous research centers, universities, and institutions on both sides of the ocean."

Howard said, "To be successful in a post-pandemic world, we need to embrace diversity and build strength from it. This diversity should be reflected both by the dedicated men and women creating our energy future and the resources we draw from to meet tomorrow's energy needs."

"Creating a more digital, interconnected energy system is one piece," Howard continued. "Countries and companies need to rely on secure infrastructure."

"Cybersecurity is one area where the electric industry is highly focused and is working together to provide that, from top to bottom, the system is as secure as possible," said Howard. "You have to stay continually focused on it."

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