While the world has become increasingly interconnected, the availability of energy resources has become more vulnerable to shocks. The concept of energy resilience is therefore becoming more important as a means to ensure the continuity of energy supplies in the face of unexpected disruptions. In this blog post, we’ll explore what energy resilience is and how it can be achieved.
Policymakers, academia, and the general public have become increasingly interested in the issue of energy system resilience for a variety of reasons, including the growing threat of climate change, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, and the continued dependence on fossil fuels. A resilient energy system is one that is able to withstand and recover from disruptions. There are a number of factors that contribute to energy system resilience, including the mix of energy sources, the availability of backup power, and the ability to quickly restore service after an outage.
The importance of energy resilience lies in its ability to cope with phenomena that threaten energy supply, such as extreme weather events, the scarcity of fossil fuels or the intermittent nature of renewable energies. The interdependence and decentralisation to which energy systems are subjected increases their complexity, giving greater importance to the point of energy resilience.
What is needed?
There are a number of ways to make the energy system more resilient. One is to develop new technologies that can up generate energy from renewable sources. This will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and make the system more sustainable in the long-term.
Broadly speaking, one way to increase energy resilience is to improve energy efficiency. This means using less energy to do the same amount of work. For example, insulating homes and office buildings so that they retain heat better, reducing the amount of heat they need.
Renewables are often more weather-resistant than other energy sources, such as coal or natural gas. They can also help to reduce the overall dependence on fossil fuels, which will become increasingly important as the effects of climate change accelerate.
Researching and implementing energy sources such as tidal and geothermal, which energy production is independent of the weather must be considered.
Another way is by increasing the use of energy storage. This can help to even out the supply of energy, making it less vulnerable to disruptions, battery storage, for example, can store energy during times of low demand and then release it during peak periods. This can help to reduce the need for backup power, which can be an important contributor to energy system resilience.
Going deeper into the topic, we can also highlight the need for social and economic changes. Collaboration between producers and users is vital for decision-makers to understand new requirements and standards to protect the most vulnerable communities. As well as, to those stakeholders or companies that are committed to sustainable businesses models. This could provide them with a stable financial environment. A resilient system is one that is fuelled by collaborative and flexible approaches that identify ways to respond to the threats and opportunities for recovery of the energy system itself, and this is achieved by integrating all actors in society.
The creation of dedicated positions for infrastructure management and the qualification of staff in digital tools, approaches and skills to respond to critical changes in the energy system will be vital. Assessing the capacity of the current system plus identifying strategies and priorities for managing such changes is also important. Communities depend on this system to function, and in the event of major disruptions there must be a clear strategic plan indicating which areas to prioritise and how to proceed. Not forgetting that the sustainability approach must cut across all of these to provide effective and lasting solutions for the long term.
Prioritising energy resilience on the political agenda, in order to develop regulations and directives that facilitate reaching such a goal should also be added to the list. Local authorities and/or policymakers have the responsibility to monitor lessons learned, cooperate between administrations and relevant stakeholders such as universities or NGOs, to safeguard the interests of the population. The trilemma of energy security, affordability and sustainability must be brought to the forefront and put on the table.
There are many other ways to make the energy system more resilient, and it is important that we explore all of them if we want to create a sustainable future for ourselves and for the planet.
The issue of energy system resilience is complex and multi-faceted. However, it is clear that it is becoming increasingly important. As we face the threat of climate change, it is essential that we take steps to ensure that our energy system is as resilient as possible.
Written by Silvia Garcés
ARUP. Energy Resilience in an Interconnected World: Future-proofing energy systems: The Energy Resilience Framework. Link.
World Economic Forum (2021). Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 edition. Chapter 5: Building resilience to overcome new risks. Link.
Dominique Coy; Shirin Malekpour; Alexander K. Saeri; Roger Dargaville; (2021). Rethinking community empowerment in the energy transformation: A critical review of the definitions, drivers and outcomes. Energy Research & Social Science, (), –. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101871