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UNEP, Italy and IEA launch initiative to accelerate power system modernisation globally


Milan– Today, at the Pre-COP26 in Milan, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), with the support of the Italian Government, launched the Demand-Driven Electricity Networks Initiative (3DEN) – a new project to accelerate progress on power system modernisation and the effective utilisation of demand-side resources.

The energy sector accounts for approximately 65% of total global GHG emissions; these need to be halved by 2030, and eliminated by 2050, to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. At the same time over 750 million people lack access to electricity and 2.6 billion still cook and heat with wood, charcoal, and other unhealthy fuels. This will require new power capacity and infrastructure expansion.

With more decentralized electricity production based on intermittent energy sources, there is a need to invest in new physical infrastructure to enable the energy transition.

“The energy sector urgently needs to change to ensure rapid decarbonization and wider accessibility for the millions of people that still lack it, particularly in low-income communities. Digital technologies have the potential to provide benefits for climate and power system resilience and can ensure energy is delivered at the lowest possible price. 3DEN will be a key tool to help governments do just that,” said Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of UNEP’s Economy Division.

3DEN will support countries accelerating progress on power system modernisation and effective utilization of distributed energy resources through policy, regulation, technology and investment guidance.

The project will bring together diverse stakeholders to foster dialogue and share experiences, including the International Smart Grids Action Network, the Clean Energy Ministerial, Mission Innovation and the User-Centred Energy Systems, Energy in Buildings and Communities and Energy Efficient End-Use Equipment Technology Collaboration Programmes.

In the framework of the 3DEN project, the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition and UNEP are launching a call for pilot projects on digitalisation for flexible and resilient energy systems in Brazil, Colombia, Morocco, Tunisia, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. Pilot projects are expected to showcase innovative business and regulatory models’ proposals for smarter digital power infrastructure uptake.

Pilot projects will provide an opportunity to gain on-the-ground insights, test new approaches and disseminate learnings that will feed into the 3DEN Initiative.


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