In a rapidly developing, technology-driven world that we live in, every system in our society relies on energy to run. Without energy, a city will be severely paralyzed. With this, we must make sure that energy systems will be ever-present even under natural or man-made pressures.

In their paper, Future-proofing energy systems: The Energy Resilience Framework, Arup discussed what it takes to build a resilient energy system.

What is energy resilience?

Arup defines resilience as the:

“ability to reduce the impact of shocks and stresses, including the capacity to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and rapidly recover from such events and to transform where necessary.”

Some factors that put an energy  system at risk include:

  • Ageing and deteriorating assets
  • Extreme weather events and climate change
  • Natural hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes)
  • Geopolitical uncertainties
  • Population growth
  • Increasingly interconnected and interdependent systems
  • New, disruptive technologies
  • Human error
  • Physical and cybersecurity threats
  • Changing consumer expectations

The seven qualities of resilient energy systems

What makes up a resilient energy system? Arup states that it must possess seven key qualities:

    1. Reflective, pertaining to the ability to understand the impact of an external or internal condition to the energy system by learning from past experiences.
    2. Flexible, referring to the ability to adapt to rapid changes and the ability to deliver energy in multiple pathways.
    3. Integrated, to maximize the efficiency of energy systems
    4. Robust, meaning they are well-designed, constructed and managed.
    5. Resourceful, that is having a range of resources to meet energy demands in times of stress.
    6. Redundancy, referring to spare capacity and duplicated infrastructures to accommodate any disruptions that may arise
    7. Inclusive, taking a consultative approach in developing energy systems

Achieving resilience

An energy system is complicated. Given this, a lot of sectors must be involved and in close cooperation in order to make resilience an attainable goal.

According to Arup, these are the three key sectors involved to make energy resilience possible:

1. Leadership and Strategy

In order to make any resilient energy system, leaders must have a strategic vision when it comes to developing it. This vision should be backed up by effective regulation as well as an integrated, multi-stakeholder approach in governance.

2. Economy and society

A resilient energy system is only possible if there is a strong financial system to support it. At the same time, consumers and the energy community must also be in constant communication in order to manage expectations and satisfy demand.

In times of unavoidable disasters, communication between society and the government is important to ensure an effective response and swift recovery.

3. Infrastructure and ecosystems

Of course, energy systems are heavily based on infrastructure. Given this, resilience can be attained by making sure that assets have adequate in terms of capacity. In extension, they must also well managed. A resilient energy system takes into account the increasing concerns over climate change by exploring sustainable energy solutions.

Lastly, a resilient energy system must incorporate a data-driven, adaptive, and integrated plan that will future-proof the system.