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Caspian Energy Journal Caspian European Club
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 20:30

Resilient energy needs smarter not just stronger solutions: Safe-Fail not Fail-Safe

New approaches are required for the management and financing of energy infrastructures as companies and governments seek to meet the challenges of increased extreme weather risks.  New thinking is needed says the latest report from the World Energy Council, ‘The road to resilience – managing and financing extreme weather risks’, Caspian Energy News (www.caspianenergy.net) reports with reference to the press release of the World Energy Council.

The report highlights the need for a move from ‘Fail-Safe’ systems that only look at single assets to ‘Safe-Fail’ systems which take a systemic overview of the energy value chain and a more strategic approach to identifying vulnerabilities.

Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council said: “We are on a path where today’s unlikely events will be tomorrow’s reality. We need to be smarter and imagine the unlikely. Traditional ‘Fail–Safe’ systems, based on predicted events, no longer operate in isolation. New ‘Safe-Fail’ systems, which recognise that unexpected weather events are occurring and that systems which go down need smarter, not stronger, solutions. This new approach is essential if we are to cope with new weather patterns and phenomena such as the more powerful El Niño currently experienced in many parts of the world.”

As average global temperatures over land and ocean surfaces rose to the highest on record for the period January to June 2015, so have the number of global extreme weather events increased over the past three decades, rising by a factor of more than four from only 38 events in 1980 to 174 events in 2014. In 2014 the global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters were US$35bn, with uninsured losses in excess of US$130bn.

In North America when Hurricane Sandy hit Manhattan the lights stayed out for more than three days. In early 2015 in Chile the country experienced the equivalent of 7 years of rain in 12 hours leaving thousands without electricity. And in the Philippines, the cost of recovery from the 2013 typhoon was estimated at more than double the GDP of the country.

With a shift in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, the financial impact of extreme weather events is also rising, driven by a mix of factors that include economic development, population growth and a higher concentration of people and assets in exposed areas.

In conclusion Frei said: “Our report has highlighted that current estimates for the cost of energy system adaptation do not fully account for the additional financing required to accommodate these new emerging risks. We need to ensure that resilience can turn these risks into rewards.”

 

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