Virtual Centennial Session

The Virtual Centennial Session, a unique experience

Philippe Adam

Secretary General of CIGRE

CIGRE has demonstrated its ability to continue its mission despite the global pandemic

First of all, on behalf of CIGRE, I would like to thank all the delegates who participated in this very special edition of the CIGRE Session between 18 and 27 August.

Who would have thought two years ago that a global pandemic would completely disrupt the organisation and holding of CIGRE's Centennial Session? Faithful to its vocation of facilitating the dissemination of knowledge and experience among its members, CIGRE has adapted to offer them a Session in two stages, in 2020 and 2021.


Many innovations were implemented to differentiate this session from the 2020 e-session, starting with the setting up of studios in Paris from which the Study Committee teams led the debates during the 16 Group Discussion Meetings and the workshops.

It was a unique and unforgettable experience for the hundred or so representatives of the Study Committees (chairs, secretaries, special reporters and other SC members) who came to Paris to lead the debates, and could renew the pleasure of meeting face to face with colleagues from all over the world.

All the recordings of this event, representing more than 156 hours of valuable and topical technical discussions, are available for replay for registered delegates. Registrations are open until the end of the year.

CIGRE TV made its entry into the organisation of the Session, arousing such enthusiasm that it will most likely be permanently integrated into the programmes of future editions, whatever their format.

All the technological challenges were brilliantly met thanks to the commitment of the teams of the Study Committees, the staff of the Central Office and its service providers, with the unprecedented support of the Technical Council and the benevolence of CIGRE leadership team.

Some pictures of the Virtual Centennial Session

Participation did not meet the Association's expectations

However, with 1,593 registrations instead of the 2,500 expected, this Session did not achieve its objective of financial balance. The Steering Committee will propose to the Administrative Council measures aimed at consolidating the finances of the Association in the short term, and making it less dependent on the results of the Session in the longer term.

Some results of the delegates' survey

As after each Session, the Central Office launched a survey to the VCS delegates to measure their level of satisfaction and collect their comments.

This year we collected 457 responses which represent 29% of the delegates who received the questionnaire.

The professional profiles of the respondents are very similar to those of the previous Sessions.

The top 5 activity sectors of the respondents are the TSOs (20%), the consulting companies (14%), the utilities (13%), the transmission equipment manufacturers having more than 10,000 employees (10%), and the laboratories/research (8%). More details in the chart below.

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Unlike in the previous Sessions, including the 2020 e-session, where 28% of the delegates attended for the first time, only 12% declared this situation for the VCS.

25% said that they had not planned to attend the 2021 Session in Paris before it was changed to virtual. Last year 20% declared they had not planned to attend the 2020 Session before it became virtual.

More than 90% of satisfied or very satisfied delegates

To the question “how would you rate the Virtual Centennial Session”, the answers are:

  • Most satisfactory: 30.0% (28.1% in 2020)
  • Satisfactory: 60.8% (63.7% in 2020)
  • Not very satisfactory: 7.9% (7.6% in 2020)
  • Not at all satisfactory: 1.3% (0.7% in 2020)

The delegates also expressed their opinion about the different components of the event as shown in the chart below.

The survey also confirmed the enthusiasm for the introduction of CIGRE TV into the scope of the Session.

Although the VCS was designed to improve the conditions for delegate participation for most time zones, including a 4-hour day instead of 8 hours last year, the proportion of offline participation was almost the same (8% in 2020 versus 7% in 2021).

Regarding the general organisation of the VCS, the respondents’ positive satisfaction is above 95% in three proposed domains out of four. It reaches almost 90% for the general information, as shown below.

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About the introduction of sponsorship opportunities

There was a question about the introduction of sponsorship in the session’s breaks and in CIGRE TV, and the result is that 53% of the respondents found it interesting, 12% it useful, 19% not interesting and 8% disturbing.

However many comments left by the respondents suggest that the repetition of some messages was excessive.

Respondents’ profiles

The charts below illustrate the distribution of the respondents in terms of gender and age.

It is interesting to note that the 2020 e-session had more women (14%) and younger participants (average age 46 vs 50).

About the 2022 Session

The questionnaire addressed two questions about the respondents’ plans and expectations regarding the 2022 Session.

The first question was “Do you plan to attend the 2022 Session?” and proposed three conditions:

  1. If it is an in person only Session in Paris
  2. If it is a hybrid Session (in Paris + remote attendance)
  3. If it is a virtual Session (remote attendance only, like this VCS)

The answers are summarized below:

The second question was “What would be your preferred option for a future hybrid CIGRE Session: a combination of physical congress and e-session, or of physical congress and recorded session for streaming?”

The answers are summarized in the chart below:

This result will nurture the discussions and decision of CIGRE governing bodies in the coming weeks to prepare the general format of the 2022 Session.

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