The vulnerability of energy infrastructure to environmental change

May 4, 2009 | 00:00

The vulnerability of energy infrastructure to environmental change

Energy generation, extraction, refining, processing and distribution require a complex, interlinked, expensive and sometimes global infrastructure. However, much of that infrastructure lies in areas that may become increasingly physically unstable owing to changes in the environment. Of particular concern are disruptions caused or exacerbated by climate change. A compromised global energy supply could result in a range of undesirable ancillary affects.

Summary points:

  • Much energy infrastructure lies in areas that are predicted to become increasingly physically unstable owing to changes in the environment.
  • Already there have been environment-related disruptions to hydroelectric installations, offshore oil and gas production, pipelines, electrical transmission and nuclear power generation.
  • As a result of scheduled decommissioning, revised environmental standards, stimulus spending and new development, there is likely to be substantial investment in new energy infrastructure.
  • It is critical that new and existing infrastructure be designed or retrofitted for changing environmental conditions.
  • It is no longer sufficient only to assess our impact on the environment; now we must also assess the impact of a changing environment on us.

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