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Powering Solutions for Resilient Smartgrids of the Future

In late 2023, I had the privilege of attending ISGT Europe 2023 in Grenoble, France as both a panelist and a keynote speaker. It’s always an honor to represent GE Vernova, which was the Gold Sponsor of the conference. The conference is organized by the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) and Université Grenoble Alpes in France and this year’s theme was “Powering Solutions for Decarbonized and Resilient Future Smartgrids” – highlighting a variety of trending topics. One such topic was “Mid-term resilience: Securing the supply chain through the Net-Zero Industry Act and Critical Raw Materials Act”. In this panel, I explored how policies and regulations can contribute to improving the resilience of future grids and sought to answer questions like how we can improve power system flexibility and manage the increasing integration of renewables. 

What Needs to Be Done? 
We are collectively witnessing a massive global shift – not just with the energy transition, but with events of impact, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and unfortunate wars. These events revealed just how fast and how deeply global supply chains can be disrupted. The disruption of critical raw material and key technologies is creating roadblocks for our industry, and beyond. 

Achieving a resilient grid is a multidimensional challenge that affects the entire power value chain from power generation, transmission, and distribution to managing it at the local level (mining, refining, data centers, etc.). A total end-to-end value analysis of the supply chain must be done if we really want to make our electricity systems resilient.

As such, it’s critical to consider: 

  • An increase in demand will require an increase of critical raw material extraction and critical technologies. 

  • The limited availability of countries that offer critical raw material and critical technologies will impact cost. 

  • Permits for extraction of critical raw material. 

  • The increased cost of electricity. 

  • Growing digitalization of supply chain management. 

Two Acts, One Vision 
The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) published in March 2023, was presented in parallel with the EU’s Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA). The CRMA contains proposals for legislation to further the production of critical raw materials while the NZIA aims to scale up the manufacturing of clean technologies within the EU. Some of the proposals that the CRMA and NZIA bring forward are: 

  • The CRMA sets benchmarks for improved domestic capacities in the EU: 

  • At least 10% of EU annual consumption from extraction within the EU by 2030 

  • At least 40% of EU annual consumption must be processed and refined within the EU by 2030 

  • At least 15% of EU annual consumption sourced from recycling by 2030 

  • Opportunities to access public and private financing for strategic projects 

  • Streamlining permitting procedures 

  • Set up of an EU export credit facility 

  • Net-zero strategic projects 

  • Investment opportunities 

  • Facilitating access to markets 

  • Innovation: establishing regulatory sandboxes 

As a result, these two Acts are critical to pay attention to as we move forward. Governments, policy makers, utilities, and technology/raw material providers we must work in partnership to solve the complex problem of supply chain resilience that we have in front of us. 

About the Author

Claudia Blanco is the Innovation & Partnerships General Manager of GE Vernova’s Grid Solutions business, delivering innovative, scalable solutions through customer partnerships and technology incubation. She focuses on testing new solutions (technology and business), opening new markets, and accelerating go-to-market and R&D by increasing available funding and proof-of-concepts by applying a collective convergence approach. Claudia has more than 30 years of experience in different industries and in key technical and leadership roles in the areas of manufacturing and operations, R&D, and product and business development. She joined the company in 2010 as the Global Director of Manufacturing Engineering & Industrial Development. She then led the advanced and additive manufacturing division and became a LEAN leader before managing engineering operations. In addition to her Industrial Engineering degree, Claudia holds a Computer Science degree, an Executive MBA and is working on her Master’s degree in Sustainability and Circular Economy at the University of Barcelona.

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