Infrastructure adaptation: preparing the energy sector for a changing climate

11:15 Wednesday 29 May




Hans-Martin Füssel (Denmark) 1; Lisa Danielson (France) 2; Ross Lowrie (United Kingdom) 5; Ana Santos (Portugal) 4; Sarah Duff (United Kingdom) 3

1 - European Environment Agency; 2 - OECD; 3 - EBRD; 4 - EDP Energias de Portugal; 5 - Environment Agency (England)

The energy system is susceptible to weather and climate conditions. It is exposed to extreme weather events, including storms and floods, and to long-term shifts in temperature, precipitation patterns and wind. Climate change can affect all components of the energy system. Hydropower, thermal, wind and solar power generation as well as biofuel production are sensitive to changes in temperature, water availability, wind and cloud conditions.Electricity transmission and distribution systems will also be affected by a changing climate, as patterns of demand change and reliability of supply is threatened by the impacts of extreme weather events.

At the same time, Europe is transforming its energy system with a view of radically decreasing carbon emissions and other pollutants, while ensuring a safe and affordable energy supply for all. This clean energy transition implies a shift in the composition of the energy mix, with much greater role for renewables. It involves substantial investments in long-lived infrastructure, which is sensitive to climate variability and change.

Faced with uncertainty about future policies, technologies and climate impacts, what are the main challenges for adaptation in the European energy sector? How can planners, investors, regulators and operators of energy infrastructure take climate change into account? How can tools such as climate risk disclosure be used to facilitate investment in climate-resilient infrastructure? What opportunities exist for companies that can provide a climate-resilient electricity supply and exploit market shifts driven by climate change?

Target audience

This session is aimed at European and national-level policy makers, practitioners from the energy sector and researchers with an interest in discussing:

  • how the energy system will be affected by climate change,
  • the implications of different mitigation scenarios for adaptation needs in the energy sector,
  • innovative policies and tools to facilitate climate resilience in the energy system, and
  • priorities for further policy-relevant research in this area.

Proposed format for the session

The session will consist of five presentations of 12 minutes each, followed by an open discussion of 45minutes with the audience.

Contributing Authors abstracts

1. Hans-Martin Füssel, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark – Adaptation challenges and opportunities for the European Energy System

The European Environment Agency has recently completed a report that assesses adaptation needs and opportunities in the current and future energy system in Europe. This report gives an overview of climate-related risks to the current energy system in Europe, explores future energy scenarios and assesses their climate-related risks. It also reviews adaptation-related activities by the European Union, its Member States, international organisations as well as other public and private actors. Furthermore, it reflects how public policies can support adaptation action by public and private actors in the energy system. Finally, the report also presents various case studies of actual climate change adaptation in several components of the energy system. This presentation presents a summary of the key findings from this report.

2. Lisa Danielson, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris, France – Policy levers for resilient infrastructure: a global perspective

There is a need to prepare infrastructure networks to the impacts of climate change. Achieving this in an equitable and efficient way will require collaboration between the public and private sectors. Drawing on a recent publication, this presentation will highlight the main challenges across OECD and G20 countries as they seek to adapt their infrastructure networks to climate change. Focusing on experiences to date, this presentation will analyse how policy tools and approaches are being used to ensure that adaptation is considered during the planning, design and operation of infrastructure.

3. Sarah Duff, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, London, UK – Financing for a resilient energy system

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is an international financial institution actively investing in the power & energy in 36+ countries. EBRD has been looking at how to address physical climate risk in the power & energy sectors for nearly a decade, predominantly in its hydropower portfolio, but more recently in thermal power generation. In this presentation, EBRD will highlight its approach to structuring climate resilient investments, present case-study examples of specific projects in Central Asia and the Western Balkans, and provide an overview of efforts to advance TCFD guidance on physical climate risks and opportunities.

4. Ross Lowrie, Environment Agency (England), Rotherham, United Kingdom – Energy Infrastructure – Shining a light on climate change adaptation

In this presentation, the Environment Agency (England) explores the basis for a robust response to the challenges a changing climate pose for the energy sector. In particular we focus on Grid Resilience – What do we mean by resilience? How can we measure it? To what extent do we need to consider multi-sectoral resilience in our increasingly interconnected world? These are issues explored in a Grid Resilience report commissioned by the UK based Energy Research Partnership. This report identifies there is currently no common industry approach to managing resilience. It stresses that further research and analysis could inform a whole system view of a definition of resilience and result in strategies to manage cross sector resilience. Infrastructure challenges have never been so connected, and climate change impacts do not target specific sectors. This report highlights the role of a changing energy mix and how this affects future resilience, providing opportunities and challenges.

5. Ana Santos, EDP Energias de Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal – Barriers and opportunities for a climate-resilient energy utility: the example of EDP

This presentation describes the efforts of EDP to address the risks from climate change impacts across power value chain (generation, transmission and distribution, and retail). These efforts are part of EDP’s wider Climate Strategy, which addresses climate change mitigation and adaptation jointly. EDP’s activities are guided by the recommendations from the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD).