100 years of CIGRE

"We are proud to host the international Symposium at the jubilee 100th anniversary of CIGRE and we are following the footsteps of the founders, who began this magnificent story of the evolution of electric power in Paris in 1921."
Marko Hrast
Chairman of CIGRE NC Slovenia

Short history of CIGRE

~written by Krešimir Bakič

The international technical organization of CIGRE was established in Paris in 1921. It originally meant Conférence International des Grands Réseaux Électriques, but after the year 2000 its name was changed to Conseil International des Grands Réseaux Électriques (International Council on Large Electric Systems).

CIGRE was created by initiative of the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), which required research support of international experts in its work on the standardization of newly rising electrical industry. At the time of early electrification, there were no conferences where experts could discuss topics such as electrical standards. There were however electro-technical exhibitions organized as small congresses, which contributed significant amount of effort to the visibility of electricity industry at that time. Therefore IEC proposed the establishment of International Conference with the support of another organization called Union des syndicats de l’électricité (USE) from Paris to complement the knowledge about specific topics from emerging electrical industry.

On 21st March the Secretary General of the French Syndicate of Electro Technical professions (USE) Jean Tribot Laspiere proposed an arrangement, with the President of IEC Mr. Mailloux and the General Secretary of IEC Mr. Le Maistre to convene an International Conference for electrical networks. From the recommendation of the IEC, the Conference was supposed to focus on the issue of high voltage transmission and should have a scientific and technical background that gives emphasis on practical approaches. At the time, the highest operational voltage on some of the world’s transmission lines was 110 kV with only few experiments running on 220 kV.

After six months of preparations, the first Conference took place from 21st to 26th November 1921 at headquarters of the USE in Paris. IEC invited several Member States of IEC organization to participate. In total 231 delegates from 12 countries attended the Conference, where they elected the first President of CIGRE Mr. Legouez, who held his position until 1928. The Honorary President, Mr. Mailloux (then President of the IEC) was also elected on the Conference. The Conference received 19 reports and 49 papers, which were discussed in three sections.

Image result for cigre paris first conference

Participants of the first CIGRE conference in Paris in 1921 (Jean Tribot Laspiere is sitting on the far right – the founder of CIGRE).

The second Session of CIGRE was held in 1923, where a decision was made to convene CIGRE Conference every two years, to set up National committees due to the need to collect papers from experts all around the world and to establish Study Committee for the research in rational use of energy.

In 1925, the third CIGRE Conference was held in Paris. This time a decision was made to also launch working groups (WG) on certain specific subjects. First WG was dealing with statistical analysis of generators.  From this WG, the new International Technical organization UNIPEDE (Association of electricity generation and electricity distributors) was later established. After 1990 UNIPEDE merged into association now called EURELECTRIC.

During the period from 1921 to 1939, CIGRE had organized ten biannual conferences where they addressed key problems of electrification in the world at the time. The number of participants has increased from 231 to 870 and the number of participating countries from 12 to 46. The CIGRE organization has consolidated itself as the world leader in the field of electrical power systems. CIGRE established more Study Committees for detailed studying of certain elements of the electricity systems (such as SC 1 – Insulating materials and oil, SC 2 – Cables, SC 3 – Circuit breakers, SC 5 – Insulators, SC 6 – Overhead lines, SC 8 – Overvoltage surges and also System views, such as parallel operation of reactive power compensation and others).

In Study committees, Working Groups published a special reports on topical issues of the new emerging technologies. During this period cables for 220 kV lines have already been put in real power systems. In 1931 CIGRE started to publish a professional publication ELECTRA, which is an important source of information regarding innovations and achievements in technology for electric power sector.

In 1933 Mr. E. Mercier became the new President of CIGRE. He was renowned as an extremely talented engineer, builder of many energy installations, an innovator and a leader of the World Energy Conference (WEC) and also World Trade Organization (WTO). He provided CIGRE with additional impetus, which came at just the right time. Mr. Mercier was the President of CIGRE for 15 years with the longest term in the office until today. He was renowed for his wisdom and remains to be known as the spirit of CIGRE’s energy systems development to this day.

His successors, who continued to lead CIGRE, have become known as very eminent and well-known experts in the global energy sector.

The Secretary General of CIGRE and the “spiritus agens” of the organization, was Jean Tribot Laspiere who held this position from its establishment until 1963. In all 40 years of his work at CIGRE he organized all CIGRE events. Posthumously he was declared as the founder of CIGRE.

After the WWII CIGRE continued its work with the first Conference in Paris in 1946. Europe was in ruins and it was top priority to quickly and efficiently activate all the levels of the electrical profession to build new and improved power systems, which meant a new era for European electrification. Despite the great difficulties with transport in Europe, the first post-war CIGRE conference was attended by 877 delegates from 30 countries. At the same time, the first ever 400 kV cable was presented, which was the basis for new 400 kV network that was later built in Sweden (1952) and Western Germany (1957).

Before WWII CIGRE organized 10 biannual conferences on odd years (1921–1939). After WWII, 37 biannual conferences were held (1946–2018). All together 47 so-called General Sessions were held in Paris. General Sessions continued to develop a broader expert structure which was enhanced by the experiences of its delegates. Additional elements on the CIGRE Conferences were also technical exhibitions of products and services for Electric Supply Industry and different Study Committees consultations, Working Groups discussions, National Committee meetings and much more.

A few numbers for last 47th CIGRE Session in 2018:
  • Over 9000 of participants,
  • 3757 attendees from 97 countries registered at the Conference
  • 606 accepted papers,
  • CIGRE Exhibition 2018 was sponsored by 301 participating companies,
  • 5074 participants attended Tutorials and
  • there were over 200 different meetings of Study Committees and WGs, etc.

CIGRE General Sessions are obviously without a doubt the largest global event on the Electric Power Industry.

Unfortunately, due to pandemic disease of COVID-19 the 48th General Session will be reorganized as an E-conference from 24th August to 3rd September 2020 with the same programme as scheduled.

Short history of CIGRE SYMPOSIA

~written by Krešimir Bakič

In 1979 many developed countries have already reached 100 % electrification. This caused some negative reactions in some parts of world. Large numbers of high-voltage overhead lines that were constructed and placed into the environment caused public suspicions that their operation would have an effect on the environment (impact on the landscape, tower design, use of space, interferences, induction effects, biological effects, etc.). On the other hand power systems experts noticed that there are also opposite effects of the environment on overhead lines mostly of mechanical nature (wind, glaze & ice loadings, temperature induced sags, conductor  oscillations) or electrical phenomena (lightings, corona effect, pollution, etc.). This consequently opened new subjects for technical discussions in the wider fields of expertise and gave a push towards organizing new CIGRE Symposia events on odd years starting from 1981.

The table at the end of this page shows titles of all 40 Symposia between 1981 to 2019, last one being in Chengdu, China.

The difference between CIGRE General Sessions and Symposia is in the technical model of the event. Symposium participation is much smaller with 400 to 600 hundred experts and all accepted papers have to be orally presented. This is also the opportunity for direct discussion between authors and the audience regarding specific technical issues.

Next CIGRE Symposium will be organized in June 2021, in Ljubljana, Slovenia in central part of Europe. The focus of the Symposium will be oriented to new methods, technologies, materials and examples related to research of electric power industry’s equipment and infrastructure, which includes generators, power transformers, transmission and distribution equipment, various technologies for cables, overhead lines, substations, FACTS facilities, DC transmission equipment and protection, automation and testing techniques.

Symposium in June 2021 will also be a celebration of the CIGRE’s Centennial General Session which will be held in August 2021, in Paris.

Our Electric Power system is going through major changes in the upcoming years. Some of the elements of the power system will be completely changed and even innovated from scratch. For this reason, the participation in the upcoming Symposium will be announced to all elementary Study Committees of CIGRE: A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, C3 and D1.

Technical Council of CIGRE announced Study Committee B5 (Protection and Automation) as the leading Committee of the Ljubljana Symposium due to their important role in the field of protection and automation in the power systems of tomorrow. In this field we’re being challenged every day by new phenomena such as low inertia on generation side, automation issues of connecting micro and macro grids, cyber security issues, increased importance of resilience and other new interesting topics.

We kindly invite experts, researchers, professors, engineers and all who are interested in the future infrastructure of electric power system, to submit synopses in accordance with CALL FOR PAPERS published at this website.

11981Stockholm, SwedenTransmission lines and the environment
21983Florence, ItalyControl applications for power system security
31983Rio de Janeiro, BrazilHydraulic Generators and Synchronous Compensators
41985Brussels, BelgiumHigh currents in power systems under normal, emergency and fault conditions
51985Dakar, SenegalElectrical power systems in developing countries
61987Boston, USAAC/DC Transmission. Interactions and Comparisons
71987Vienna, AustriaNew and improved materials for electrotechnology
81989Bangkok, ThailandOperation of electric power systems in developing countries
91989Bournemouth, UKDigital Technologies in Power Systems: Needs, Opportunities, Impact
101991Montreal, CanadaElectric power system reliability
111991Paris (replaces Leningrad)Compacting overhead transmission lines
121993Berlin, GermanyDiagnostic and Maintenance Techniques
131993Lausanne, SwitzerlandPower System Electromagnetic Compatibility
141995Helsinki, FinlandIntegrated control and communication systems
151995Tokyo, JapanPower Electronics in power systems
161997Neptun, RomaniaImpact of DSM, IRP and Distributed generation on Power Systems
171997Tours, FranceImpact of open trading on power systems
181999Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaPower Systems issues in rapidly industrializing countries
191999London, UKWorking Plants and Systems harder. Enhancing the management of plants and power systems
202001Cairns, AustraliaBehavior of electrical equipment and components in tropical environment
212001Iguacu, BrazilGas and Electricity networks: complementarity or competition?
222003Montreal, CanadaQuality and Security of Electric Power Delivery Systems
232004Ljubljana, Slovenia (replaces Shanghai)Development and operation of interconnections in a restructuring context
242005Athens, GreecePower Systems with Dispersed Generation, Technologies, Impacts on Development, Operation and Performances
252005New Orleans, USACongestion Management in a Market Environment. 2nd CIGRE/PES Symposium
262007Beijing, ChinaCIGRE/IEC Symposium on International standards for Ultra High Voltage
272007Osaka, JapanSystem development and asset management under restructuring
282007Zagreb, CroatiaTransient phenomena in large electric power systems
292009Calgary, CanadaCIGRE/PES – Integration of Wide Scale Renewable Resources into the Power Delivery System
302009New Delhi, IndiaIEC/CIGRE Symposium on Standards for UHV Transmission
312009Guilin, ChinaOperation and Development of Power Systems in the New Context
322011Bologna, ItalyThe electric power system of the future – Integrating supergrids and microgrids
332011Recife, BrazilAssessing and improving power system security, reliability, and performance in the light of changing energy sources
342013Auckland, New ZealandBest Practice in Transmission and Distribution in a Changing Environment
352013Lisbon, PortugalSmarts Grids: Next Generation Grids for New Energy Trends
362015Cape Town, S. AfricaDevelopment of Electricity Infrastructures in Sub-Saharan Africa
372015Lund, SwedenThe Next Generation HVDC and Power Electronic
382017Dublin, IrelandExperiencing the future power system… today
392019Aalborg, DenmarkGOING OFFSHORE – Challenges of the future power grid
402019Chengdu, ChinaTowards active, sustainable digital networks that are resilient and integrated from UHV to distribution
412021Ljubljana, SloveniaReshaping the Electric Power System Infrastructure