Title: Climate Change and Critical Infrastructure - Storms
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC113721
ISBN: 978-92-79-96403-9 (online)
ISSN: 1831-9424 (online)
Other Identifiers: EUR 29411 EN
OP KJ-NA-29411-EN-N (online)
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC113721
DOI: 10.2760/986436
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: Infrastructure systems are the backbone of modern economies, and critical infrastructure resilience is essential to sustainable development. Natural hazards can affect the electricity supply and result in power outages which can trigger accidents, bring economic activity to a halt and hinder emergency response until electricity supply is restored to critical services. The risk environment facing critical infrastructures is complex and in constant flux. This study attempts to elucidate the vulnerability of critical electric infrastructure to storms. First, we discuss the impact of storms on the power grid and outline how certain characteristics of this type of hazard affect the resilience of the power grid based on forensic analysis. Storms can cause widespread damage to the electricity grid. Wind loading and debris impact are the main causes of storm damage. Tall, slender structures, such as transmission towers, distribution poles and wind turbines are most affected. Transmission and distribution assets can also be damaged by the impact of flying debris. Moreover, freezing rain forms glaze ice which accumulates on power lines and increases their catenary load. The added weight can cause the line to break or distribution poles and transmission towers to collapse. Substations were also found to be affected by storms, particularly by inundation and airborne debris. However, damage from flying debris was less compared to that sustained by transmission and distribution lines. Storms in coastal areas may affect transmission and distribution networks by increasing the amount of saltwater deposits on electrical equipment. Given adequate preparedness, early warning can help expedite recovery by allowing TSOs and DSOs to activate disaster response plans, including surge mechanisms and mutual aid agreements, before the storm hits. Second, we present a methodology to investigate the impact of climate change on the risk posed by storms to critical electric infrastructure. Our approach combines a future projection of the recurrence interval of selected storm scenarios and the assessment of the estimated economic losses incurred by critical infrastructure and those resulting from the disruption of daily economic activity. A case study was conducted to demonstrate the methodology in a large urban area in Western Europe. We derived the projected peak wind gust of the 10-, 50- and 100-year storm scenarios for five time periods. For each recurrence interval, the cost to repair the damage to overhead lines and the economic losses from the interruption of the daily economic activity amount each to about half of the total losses. The proportion of the repair cost increases by approximately 10% for the 50-year and the 100-year storms compared to the 10-year scenario. This increase causes the total expected losses from the 50-year and the 100-year storms to rise as well. The duration of the power outage has a major impact on the estimated losses for all scenarios across all time periods. In this case study, the increase of the duration of the power outage from 3 days to 10 days increases the total expected losses 3.5 times. With longer-term power outages, the economic losses caused by interruption of the daily economic activity progressively become the main determinant of the total impact. The scope of this study is limited to demonstrating the feasibility of the methodology and inductively drawing preliminary conclusions regarding the impact of storms on critical infrastructure given climate change conditions. It is not intended to supplement, replace or challenge existing risk assessment and management plans prepared by Member States. The following recommendations emerged from the findings of this study: — Consider increasing transmission tower design requirements for resistance to wind loading in standards and regulations. — Consider the risk from climate change in investment analyses. — Consider events with recurrence intervals longer than 100 years in hazard mitigation and emergency planning. — Standardize mutual aid resources. — Plan for surge capabilities and external contractors.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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