Power-up: Factoring Resilience into Transitioning Energy Infrastructure

A reliable electricity supply underpins almost all social and economic activities and more so in the post-COVID world. The G20’s Global Infrastructure Outlook estimates that US$31 trillion will be required by 2040 globally in the energy sector to provide for future needs and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Meanwhile, international commitments on climate change mitigation, guided by Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), are leading to rapid transitions in both the generation and distribution of electricity. Countries around the world are in the process of defining national plans and policies aiming to achieve ‘Net Zero’ through a transition to cleaner non-polluting energy systems, improving energy efficiency, and decarbonization.

Changing climate patterns like rising temperatures, varying precipitation patterns and more frequent extreme weather events are posing significant risks to energy infrastructure investments worldwide. In this context, adapting energy systems and improving their resilience becomes vital for long-term sustainability. A resilient energy system should be able to withstand the long-term changes in climate, continue operation against the immediate shocks from extreme weather and geological events, and restore the system’s function after an interruption resulting from these hazards. Supporting adaptation to climate change and improving resilience of energy systems can deliver multiple benefits – sustaining economic development, guaranteeing energy security, and protecting critical infrastructure and the vulnerable groups and communities dependent on them.

National policies have a critical role in ensuring the benefits of disaster and climate resilience. The costs to economies and communities due to the interruption in infrastructure services, for instance energy supply, could be exponential compared to the cost of damaged infrastructure assets.Although energy suppliers have a direct interest in protecting their assets against natural hazards, the true costs of climate impacts and benefits of climate resilience do not get accurately assessed or quantified. Governments must lead the way in accounting for these costs and benefits through effective policy measures and incentivizing research and measures that enables the adoption and implementation of disaster and climate resilience considerations in energy systems.

The panelists, representing CDRI members from around the world, would reflect on the following questions:
  • Transitioning to cleaner sources will affect the way we design and construct the energy grids of the future. How can countries ensure the safety and reliability of the new infrastructure in light of changing climate and disaster risk patters? What are the peculiar challenges of developing countries with energy access disparities and developed countries with high levels of resilience in current power infrastructure systems?

  • Different countries are transitioning at different rates. How can Countries, MDBs and IFIs support developing nations, especially SIDS and LDCs, in leapfrogging to future-ready systems, while also achieving the SDG aim of “leave no one behind”?

  • What roles can the international organizations like CDRI and IEA play in supporting transitions to climate and disaster resilient energy infrastructure of the future? How would they differ across SIDS, LDCs, developing economies and high-income countries?