From the Vice Chair

Vice Chair
Dr. Jan Mertens
(ENGIE, France)

Energy enables a high quality of life and if properly done, makes humans healthy, wealthy and free. In fact, it enables our access to clean water and healthy food as well. At the same time, the sense of urgency with respect to the impact of global warming has never been so high and the challenges we are facing to reduce our CO2 emissions to reach carbon neutrality by 2070 are enormous. According to the IEA ETP 2020 report, the power sector will need to decarbonize even faster and be carbon negative (!) by 2050.

The IERE is a non-profit organization, serving the electricity industry across the world as a "global platform" of information exchange and collaboration in electricity technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D). In particular, IERE has three organizational missions:

  • Evaluate innovative and emerging technologies and promote their implementation to realize safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient electric power systems
  • Help establish corporate strategy related to R&D given the emerging trends influencing the evolving power industry landscape

All three missions were important back in 1968 when IERE was created but have only gained importance since then. The IEA ETP 2020 report states that the emission reduction to reach carbon neutrality by 2070 will need to come from technologies that are today not mature. In fact, only 25 % of the required emission reduction will come from technologies that are today mature so evaluating innovative emerging technologies and sharing this information amongst the member is of uttermost importance.

Although back in 1968, the IERE served as ‘International Electric Research Exchange institute’, today in all corporate strategies, the line between electricity and other molecules such as gas is fading away. Electricity has some important advantages over gas and turning electricity into gas reduces efficiency and increases costs. However, we may need to pay this price to make energy storable over longer periods or make it more energy dense to transport and use using existing transport and usage infrastructure. In fact, when introducing technologies such as P2G (Power to Gas) and P2G2P (Power to Gas to Power), the distinction between electricity and gas becomes very small and both are easily converted back and forth. Finally, developing countries are building new electricity generation facilities at an enormous pace so it is crucial that the developed economies help with technology transfer to ensure these installations are sustainable and allow us reaching the carbon neutrality.

Finally, investment in the development of these new technologies is crucial and collaboration between public and private organizations key. I am convinced that we should co-develop these emerging technologies using pilots and demos with partners. The challenge is too large to overcome alone as a person/company/sector/country, we must collaborate.

Join us @IERE and partner up in our journey to a zero-carbon energy transition.

Jan Mertens
IERE Vice-Chair