In the UK, we expect access to a reliable supply of energy at all times. The energy sector – generation, transmission and distribution – is evolving to maintain security of supply, to meet carbon reduction targets and to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. As energy sector assets have long operational lifetimes, addressing these issues can be challenging.

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) 2012 identifies the key climate impacts for the energy sector from the 2030s as:

  • changes in energy demand due to rising temperatures
  • increased flood risks due to more intense rainfall events
  • rising sea levels and constraints on water availability for power station operations

Other risks include:

  • heat related damage to energy infrastructure
  • forced reductions in energy transmission efficiency due to higher temperatures

Coastal sites are vulnerable to erosion and rising sea levels, while renewable energy targets present challenges as many renewable energy generation facilities are weather-dependent.

Most sectors are dependent on the reliable provision of energy, while the energy sector relies on, for example, the ICT sector to allow control and communications. These interdependencies will increase in the future, adding complexity to risk analysis and the decision-making process.

EPSRC research projects

  • All in One – identifying the challenges and gaps in science and technology that prevent one utility product from supplying all the services.
  • ARCoES – looking at the threats to energy supply from coastal flooding and erosion with particular emphasis on the UK nuclear energy sector and regional energy supply issues.
  • ARIES – assessing the resilience of the UK gas and electricity systems to ensure a balance between changing patterns of demand and supply.
  • CLUES – assessing the development of decentralised energy systems in urban areas in the light of national decarbonisation and urban sustainability goals
  • ITRC – considering the energy sector within the overall national infrastructure system looking at performance, risks and interdependencies.
  • Land of the MUSCos – to understand the current opportunities and barriers to Multiple Utility Service Companies development, and to realistically model the socio-technical systemic changes required for a true MUSCo expansion.
  • RESNET – analysing, at the national scale, climate-related changes in the reliability of the UK’s electricity system and assessing adaptation options to enhance resilience.