Sharing know-how – Building bigger markets

Dr Yinbiao Shu, Chairman, State Grid Corporation of China


Dr Yinbiao Shu is Chairman of State Grid Corporation of China, the largest electric utility company in the world which occupied 2nd place on the global Fortune 500 list 2015. He is also one of three Vice Presidents of the IEC.

SGCC is headquartered in Beijing, provides energy to 88% of China (over 1 billion people) and employs 1,72 million people.

In this IEC Global Visions interview Shu explains how active participation in IEC work has enabled SGCC to first build a reliable infrastructure in China and then to contribute significantly to global power technology development.





Dr Yinbiao Shu, Chairman, State Grid Corporation of China

What are the advantages for your company in actively participating in IEC work?

Dr Shu: Active participation in IEC committees helps to accelerate our company’s technology innovation, and allows us to strengthen our competitive advantage. Participation in the IEC also opens new potential markets and helps us to be at the forefront of market trends. It’s certainly more gain than pain. We see great value in our ability to share our points of view which directly contribute to the IEC standardization process.

Being part of the IEC community helps us to improve the competitiveness of products, expand market share, and brings many other benefits. I would say it can also help a company to improve its profile, increase global influence, and ensure that technologies are included in International Standards.  

When a company’s technical standards are accepted as IEC Standards, products will be more widely accepted on international markets. These benefits outweigh efforts in contributing to IEC work.

What would you tell a CEO whose company is not yet actively participating in IEC work?

Dr Shu: I think any visionary entrepreneur, who wishes to turn his enterprise into a sustainable business, needs to contribute to international standardization. This is the solution to achieve sustainable development. When you just buy standards others have developed, you will never be at the forefront of the market. IEC Standards allow you to operate on a level playing field.

What is your view on intellectual property rights and standardization? Is there a risk for a company to lose its IP?  

Dr Shu: I know that some entrepreneurs are concerned that their intellectual property rights will be infringed by participating in the IEC standardization process. I think this is simply a misunderstanding. The IEC has strict systems in place and each country has its own intellectual property laws. Active participation in IEC work will not affect intellectual property rights. On the contrary, I think joining the IEC helps to protect intellectual property because when technologies are included in IEC Standards it is clear who they belong to and therefore they are automatically protected.

How did participation in international standardization impact your company and the Chinese economy?

Dr Shu:IEC International Standards have tremendously advanced the development of electrical technologies. The IEC is respected as ‘the home of industry’ and IEC Standards significantly contribute to improving product quality, productivity and efficiency, reducing production costs, improving management skills and business competitiveness. Overall, they have helped improve our standard of living.

SGCC adopted lots of IEC International Standards in the past, but during the last ten years, along with the rapid development of Chinese technology, more and more of our technical standards have been adopted as IEC International Standards.

State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) is the largest utility in the world.
As an innovative enterprise, SGCC develops new technologies to advance the electrical power industry. During the past years, SGCC has become a cutting edge global research organization in areas such as ultra-high voltage DC transfer, Smart Grid, large scale renewable energy integration, and electric vehicle charging networks.

Through our R&D work, many national standards and corporate standards were established. These standards allow us to develop mature technologies that can be widely used in daily life.

Many of our technicians and engineers are involved in IEC work and SGCC highly appreciates its cooperation with the IEC.

In your industry, which one could assume to be contained within the borders of China, do you see a need for increased collaboration across borders?

Dr Shu: The electrical power industry is going through a period of emerging technical innovations, such as Smart Grid, electric vehicles and energy storage technologies. This requires cooperation and support from the whole IEC community to help accelerate innovation, and consequently achieve our green commitments.

SGCC is also faced with new challenges, along with new energies being introduced to the industry.  Power operation systems are becoming more complex and here again close cooperation is needed. That’s why we work with the IEC, sharing technologies with the IEC community at a global level.

SGCCs energy infrastructure is impressive: what role does standardization play when building energy generation and distribution networks?

Dr Shu: Standardization is vital to infrastructure development. Electricity infrastructure must be safe, economical and durable. IEC Standards are helping companies to build products and services that are of consistently high quality, safety and performance. Applying IEC International Standards to infrastructure development leads to higher quality outcomes.

However, this doesn’t imply that IEC International Standards are only relevant to a limited number of companies that produce high-end products. This would be counterproductive because markets would remain small and products would remain expensive. I believe it is important that many companies participate in the standardization process to ensure that new Standards are functional and serve the public interest. I hope more and more enterprises, entrepreneurs, engineers and technicians will participate in IEC work.

You are a busy man, and yet you have accepted the mandate of IEC Vice President. Why is that?

Dr Shu: I have been lucky to build my career during thriving economic times, when China started its transition through reform and opening-up policy. As an electrical engineer, along with the development of the Chinese electrical power industry, I have built my experience and expertise in this area. My 30 years of professional life reflects China’s 30 years of transformation. The significant economic development over that time-span has provided a solid base for the Chinese electrical power industry.

Personally speaking, my career has tremendously benefited from my involvement in IEC work. As the Chairman of SGCC, I do have a busy work schedule, however, I enjoy being actively engaged in IEC strategy and policy making.

The IEC is a great platform to exchange views and obtain insights on technical issues through fruitful discussions with global industry professionals. It allows me to share new technologies with peers and competitors from all over the world, exchange ideas and views on current topics, compare and combine Chinese technical standards with International Standards, and consequently increase the global competitiveness of Chinese technologies and products.