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CIGRE’s Centennial Session Goes Virtual

June 25, 2021
Broadcasting from Paris, the 2021 session will be an immersive digital experience sharing power system expertise on large high-voltage electric systems.
CIGRE has been a key player in the development of electric power systems since 1921, when it hosted an inaugural meeting of 231 electrical engineers from 12 countries in Paris. Now, 100 years later, it will hold its 48th general session in August 2021. Today, CIGRE has more than 15,000 members, consisting of researchers, academics, CEOs and electrical engineers who represent key decision makers in the electricity industry in some 100 countries.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties in August, both in terms of the health condition around the world and possible travel restrictions for delegates and exhibitors, the CIGRE steering committee has opted to host the 2021 centennial session virtually. This milestone event will now be held over eight four-hour days, excluding Saturdays and Sundays, from Aug. 18-27.

The 2020 e-session was based on papers presented by the authors, which typically is not the case in a CIGRE session. CIGRE did this to recognize the efforts of those who provided their papers. In contrast, the 2021 virtual centennial session will be based on contributions provided during the group discussion meetings in response to questions in each study committee’s special reports, as is typical in a CIGRE session. The virtual centennial session will have entirely different content than the 2020 e-session, with new tutorials, workshops and panels.

Industry Challenges

The electricity industry continues to face increasing challenges to accommodate the demand for electrical energy while promoting environmental protection. With an estimated 1.2 billion people still without economic, reliable and secure access to electricity, the traditional forms of generation are being replaced globally by alternative energy such as renewables.

The industry has developed new technical solutions linked to the integration of intermittent wind and solar renewable energy sources, by installing battery energy storage systems for when renewable generation exceeds system demand. The latest challenge for the T&D system is the increasing use of electric vehicles, which are likely to replace the use of petrol- and gas-fueled vehicles in the foreseeable future.  

The development of high-voltage direct-current technologies and the application of both extra-high-voltage (EHV) alternating-current and direct-current transmission interconnections continues in the industry. Coupled with the increasing number of international connections using EHV subsea cables to optimise system capacity and facilitate international-based energy marketing opportunities, they now appear to be the first steps toward the creation of a global interconnected energy system.

Group Discussions

These and other challenges facing the industry will be discussed in detail at the 2021 virtual session. The main component of a CIGRE session, the group discussion meetings will be broadcast from television studios at the Palais des Congrés venue in Paris.

Organizing teams within the 16 study committees — including the chair, secretaries and special reporters — will be in Paris to manage the virtual discussions. Each group discussion meeting will take place over two four-hour days. To deliver the entire programme over this year’s eight-day session, CIGRE will operate five professionally run TV studios simultaneously.

In a typical CIGRE session, the 16 group discussion meetings are the main part of the event, in the form of conferences where delegates can answer questions from the special reporters. The virtual centennial session will follow this principle, and delegates who wish to do so will be able to submit their contributions once registered.

These contributions will be made live, but they also must be recorded in case the remote contributor has a technical issue during the meeting. To guarantee the best quality of image and sound, each contributor’s video must be approved by the staff responsible for program production a few days prior to the live meeting.

Virtual Format

The opening ceremony and panel will be broadcast on Friday, Aug. 20. The Next Generation Network (NGN) and Women In Engineering (WIE) forums and four all-new workshops will be held on Monday, August 23. The 16 tutorials — one from each study committee — also are brand new. Tutorial topics range from the impact of cycling on large electrical motors (A1) to management of risk in substations (B3) and will be held using the GoToWebinar meeting platform.

Finally, the CIGRE TV channel will broadcast daily informative content for a few minutes before and after the technical programme. These will include clips from presentations, interviews with CIGRE personalities, on-the-spot feedback from the group discussion meeting debates and coverage of key events.

All the events of the 2021 CIGRE session, group discussion meetings, tutorials, workshops, panels, forums and the opening ceremony will be recorded. The videos will be available on demand after the session to all registered delegates through end of the year.

Editor’s note: For complete details on CIGRE 2021, visit www.cigre.org. The standard registration fee for a CIGRE member is €395 and €595 for a nonmember.

About the Author

Gerry George

Gerry is a chartered electrical engineer and a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. Gerry’s background includes extensive time and experience in engineering and managerial positions in the UK Supply Industry. As part of the T&D World editorial team, Gerry works with contributing authors around the world and represents the magazine at major transmission and distribution conferences and exhibitions in Europe.

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