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Michael Spence: Crunch Time for the Power Sector

MILAN – Making the power sector fit for the twenty-first century requires a "banker" that finances and coordinates relevant long-term investments, and an "architect" that guides the development of a complex, interconnected smart-grid system. National governments need to fill both roles.

Many of us take electricity for granted. We flip a switch and expect the light to turn on. But the capacity and resilience of power systems – generation, transmission, and distribution – are not guaranteed, and if these systems fail, it's lights out for the entire economy.

I recently participated in a meeting of the Power and Energy Society (PES), which operates under the aegis of the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers. The mood at the event – attended by more than 13,000 industry professionals from around the world, plus hundreds of companies exhibiting advanced equipment and systems – was upbeat and energetic.

But, despite the prevailing "can-do spirit," everyone at that meeting knew that the power sector is confronting tremendous challenges, beginning with the growing frequency of extreme weather events. Firms are now working to devise innovative ways to restore power more quickly after outages, and are investing in infrastructure that will increase resilience to shocks. This includes efforts to minimize the risk that the system itself will cause or exacerbate a shock, such as a forest fire.

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Posted: May 17, 2024 Friday 09:06 AM