Title: Critical Infrastructures at Risk - Securing the European Electric Power System
Publisher: Springer
Publication Year: 2006
JRC N°: JRC32943
ISBN: 1-4020-4306-6
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC32943
Type: Books
Abstract: This book explores the potential risks jeopardising the European electricity infrastructure. The work was initiated by the need to verify the potential effects of the ongoing market and technical transformation of the infrastructure, which is fundamentally changing its operation and performance. The final aim is to set the basis for an appropriate industrial and political European-wide response to the risk challenges. Europe witnessed in the last years a number of significant power contingencies. Some of them revealed the potentiality of vast impact on the welfare of society and triggered pressing questions on the nature and reliability of electric power systems. Society has incorporated electricity as an inherent component, indispensable for achieving the expected level of quality of life. Therefore, any impingement on the continuity and properties of the electricity service would be able to distress society as a whole, affecting individuals, social and economic activities, other infrastructures and essential government functions. It would be possible to hypothesise that in extreme situations this could even upset national security. Europe has developed during the last decade a comprehensive energy supply policy, unbundling the previous monopolies and opening the generation and distribution markets. This policy has deeply changed the business and regulatory landscape of the electric power infrastructure. From the consumer point of view the effects have been positive: there are more potential suppliers, and prices follow market rules. The immediate economic effects of the new policy have not been accompanied by changes in the underpinning physical systems, whose evolution demand at least medium term investments and planning. For the time being, the power infrastructure has showed an appropriate reliability level, but new threats can be foreseen in the horizon. Some of these threats are internal to the infrastructure mainly due to the increasing complexity of many technical and market elements; some of them are external, for instance the menace the terrorism. Therefore the security of the evolving European electric power infrastructure deserves a cautious and thorough consideration. Electricity is a “common good”, central to the security and welfare of almost half billion people and the stability and future economic developments of more than 30 countries. For this reason, although local contingencies can be tolerated up to a given degree, if the power system would appear unreliable at the continental level, this will become a matter of major concern. Europe can not afford systematic failures of its power infrastructure, which could eventually lead to the weakening of the citizens’ trust on the societal institutions.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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