Issue Brief: Fraunhofer CSE Grid Mod Event 4/25/18

Last week, Fraunhofer CSE was excited to kick off the first event in our new speaker series on grid modernization in Massachusetts, called “International Insights to Meet 2050 Carbon Goals.”

The “Roundtable Speaker Sessions on Grid Modernization in Massachusetts” series comes at a time when state and federal governments around the world, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal Republic of Germany, have committed to cutting their carbon emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. This effort, which will entail major changes in energy consumption and efficiency, transportation, building construction, and other fields, will result in a significant transformation in the way society consumes and generates electricity.

The speaker session, which took place on April 25th, featured keynote speakers Katie Theoharides, Assistant Secretary of Climate Change at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), and Professor Hans-Martin Henning, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE (Fraunhofer ISE) in Freiburg, Germany, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Bruce Mohl, editor of CommonWealth Magazine.

The event kicked off with opening remarks by Fraunhofer CSE Executive Director Christian Hoepfner, who welcomed keynote speakers and panelists, as well as a special audience member: State Senator Michael Barrett, chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.


The first keynote speech by Assistant Secretary for Climate Change Katie Theoharides focused on Massachusetts’ history of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing innovative technological, policy and renewable energy solutions to combat climate change. Assistant Secretary Theoharides emphasized the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to ensuring that Massachusetts achieves its aggressive emission reduction goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 while fostering a thriving economy and protecting residents, businesses, and local communities from the impacts of climate change.

The second keynote speech from Fraunhofer ISE Director Hans-Martin Henning outlined the steps being taken in Germany. Professor Henning noted that while more than one third of the country’s electricity generation is based on renewable energy sources, its primary energy consumption is still by far dominated by fossil energy sources such as gasoline, diesel fuel, coal, and lignite. Therefore, key pillars to reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions include energy saving and increased efficiency and a much higher use of electricity in all end-use sectors including building heating and mobility.

Following the keynotes, a lively roundtable panel discussion featured:

  • Patrick Haswell, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs at Veolia North America
  • Penni McLean-Conner, Chief Customer Officer & SVP Customer Care Organization at Eversource Energy
  • Kayte O’Neill, Vice President of Regulatory Strategy at National Grid US
  • Stephen Pike, CEO at Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)

The framing of the 2050 carbon reduction challenge and the examples of pathways presented by Assistant Secretary Theoharides and Professor Henning were a terrific kickoff for the Grid Modernization Roundtable Speaker Sessions. All speakers and panelists provided thoughtful commentary on what has been implemented in the United States and Germany as well as expert advice about what remains to be done as the world prepares for the year 2050 and examples of approaches to grid modernization and the benefits they offer consumers, businesses, utilities, cleantech developers, and other stakeholders. As momentum builds around grid modernization in Massachusetts, Fraunhofer CSE looks forward to continuing these speaker sessions that bring together thought leaders and industry experts.

Fraunhofer CSE’s next Grid Modernization in Massachusetts Roundtable, Residential Energy Efficiency 2.0, will take place in June.


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The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) is an applied research and development laboratory dedicated to building tomorrow’s energy future today.
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