The resilience of the UK power networks is struggling to keep pace with the hazards created by a warming planet, according to a new report released by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).
According to the report, grid resilience will come under increasing pressure as the UK decarbonises its economy and becomes more dependent on electricity. Electricity currently provides around 15-20% of the country’s energy needs. However, this figure could increase to 65% by 2050 as part of a Net Zero strategy underpinned by the electrification of heat, transport and other sectors.
The CCC foresee a significant upshift in the risk of climate-related power failures, as more variable weather patterns collide with greater dependence on electricity. The report cites an incident that occurred in Cambridgeshire in 2019, when lightning struck an electricity circuit, causing a blackout for a million people and bringing trainlines to a standstill.
Although the committee believe that climate risks can be managed, they conclude that increasing the resilience of the UK power system is now an urgent issue. The report calls on the government to build on the opportunities presented by the 2020 Energy White Paper and the National Infrastructure Strategy, and ensure that climate resilience is at the heart of the planning process for all new infrastructure projects.
Baroness Brown, the chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, said:
“By better understanding and preparing for the coming changes, the UK can prosper, protecting its people, its economy, and its natural environment. A detailed, effective action plan that prepares the UK for climate change is now essential and needed urgently.”
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