Virtual Centennial Session

CIGRE is pleased to announce the Virtual Centennial Session for 2021

Since the beginning of this year 2021, the Technical Council and the Central Office of CIGRE have been preparing the 48th Session of the Association after having postponed it last year due to the pandemic. This preparation of the Centenary Session was based on the principle that the event would be held in hybrid mode, combining face-to-face and remote participation.
As intended, the situation was reviewed again in mid-May and the Steering Committee was again confronted with the question of whether or not to continue with a hybrid Session in 2021.
Uncertainties about the situation at the end of August 2021, both in terms of the health situation in the world and possible travel restrictions in many countries for delegates and exhibitors, finally led the Steering Committee to recommend that the 2021 Session be held virtually.

by Philippe Adam

Secretary General of CIGRE

Indeed, even though the organisation of events will resume in France and Paris from June onwards, it is not excluded that more restrictive measures will be taken in view of the evolution of the pandemic in August. The Administrative Council, consulted in express mode, approved this recommendation to organise the 2021 Session in virtual mode, while postponing the technical exhibition to August 2022. 

The good news is most of the innovations planned and under development for the hybrid mode are highly useful for the virtual event. This is particularly the case for the setting up of TV studios to broadcast live debates from the meeting rooms, allowing remote delegates to share the same information as on-site delegates. The Technical Board and the Central Office have drawn up a new general programme for the Virtual Centennial Session, seeking the best compromise to ensure that delegates can participate comfortably in all time zones.

In the end, the Virtual Centennial Session will be held over 8 four-hour days, excluding Saturdays and Sundays, from 18 to 27 August.

The Group Discussion Meetings (GDM), which are the main components of a CIGRE Session, will be broadcast from television studios that will be set up at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. The 16 Study Committee organising teams, including Chairs, Secretaries and Special Reporters, will be on hand in Paris to lead the discussions. Each GDM will take place over two 4-hour days.

In order to deliver the entire programme of this 8-day Session, CIGRE will operate five professionally run TV studios in parallel.

The opening ceremony, the opening panel, the NGN and WiE forums, and the four workshops organised by some of the Study Committees will use the same TV studios over two days.

The 16 tutorials will be broadcast using the GoToWebinar webinar management platform. Some time slots not used for the technical programme or for events directly linked to CIGRE will be made available to partners to broadcast the content of their choice.

Finally, inspired by the preparation of the hybrid session, a CIGRE TV channel will broadcast daily informative content for a few minutes, before and after the technical programme. This could include presentations of the day's technical programmes, interviews with CIGRE personalities, on-the-spot feedback on the GDM debates, presentations of key events, etc.

This Virtual Centennial Session will offer our community much more than our rapidly organised 2020 e-session. Indeed, the 2020 e-session was designed to allow authors to present papers that they had been preparing for the 2020 session for several months. In a normal Session, the only opportunity for authors to present their papers is to participate in the poster sessions organised by the Study Committees. As a result, the 2020 e-session was rather like a super poster session as authors had 10 minutes to present their papers.

In a normal CIGRE Session, the 16 GDMs are the main part of the event in the form of conferences where delegates can answer questions from the Special Reporters. These responses take the form of written contributions submitted in advance for validation by the Study Committee Chairs, and presented orally at the GDMs within a time limit of approximately 3 minutes. The Virtual Centennial Session will follow this principle, and delegates who wish to do so will be able to submit their contributions once registered. This is discussed in more detail below.

The workshops and tutorials originally planned for the 2020 face-to-face Session had also been added to the programme of the 2020 e-Session so as not to delay their presentation by a year.

For the Virtual  Session, a completely new set of four workshops and sixteen tutorials will be offered to delegates on topical issues.

Let's go back to the contributions for a moment. This year they will have to be uploaded from the registration platform and will only be possible if the contributor is duly registered for the Session. They will be examined by the Special Reporters of the Study Committees, a few days before their presentation at the GDM, according to a detailed programme which for each Study Committee will follow the Preferential Subjects and the questions of the Special Reporters. The contributions will be made live, but each one will also have to be pre-recorded so that it can be used as a substitute, in case of a problem with the remote contributor. Finally, to guarantee the best quality of image and sound, each contributor will have to be qualified by the staff in charge of the production of the programmes, a few days before going live.

All the events of the 2021 Session, GDMs, tutorials, workshops, panels, forums and the opening ceremony, will be recorded and the videos will be available on demand to all delegates once the Session is over, until the end of the year.

The technical exhibition has been postponed to August 2022, but sponsorship opportunities will be offered to exhibitors in the form of video clips during breaks in the technical programme (as in 2020), interviews on CIGRE TV, or participation in a dedicated broadcast channel.

The registration conditions have been revised compared to what was set up for the Hybrid Session. Like for a normal Session, registration entitles you to the full range of activities (GDM, tutorials, workshops, panels, forums etc.) that will take place during the eight days. It also entitles you to access all on-demand video recordings until the end of the year.

The basic fee for a member is €395, and €595 for a non-member.

  • CIGRE offers a 50% discount to students and a 30% discount for young professionals (under 35). 
  • A special rate of €195 for a member or €295 for a non-member has also been decided. This special rate will be offered to delegates who were registered before 31 May 2021 for the 2021 Hybrid Session, and who agree to transfer their registration to the 2022 Session. This special rate will also be offered to delegates who register for the 2022 Session at the old hybrid Session 2021 rate, before registering for the virtual Session 2021.
  • For delegates who have already registered before 31 May 2021 and do not wish to register for the 2022 Session, it will be possible to cancel their registration for 2022 and receive a refund with a flat fee.

I would like to conclude this article by inviting you to register for the Virtual Centennial Session and join us virtually in Paris to be part of the world's leading digital event for power system expertise.

We are seeking to celebrate our centennial by continuing the unique fraternity that is the CIGRE Session and its tradition as the go to place for professionals seeking the latest insights on the global power system.

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