UK-CHILE: Strengthening energy infrastructure to withstand extreme weather and natural disasters

08 October 2020 EconomyFood security

Long electricity blackouts have a big impact on a country’s economic activities, social stability and security. Latin America’s energy infrastructure currently lacks the resilience to deal with the increasing frequency of climate-related extreme weather events and natural disasters that cause power supplies to fail.

Newton funded scientists in the UK and Chile are using mathematical models to develop a framework that will strengthen power systems in Chile and other countries vulnerable to environmental hazards. The framework will help energy providers prevent or reduce widescale electricity outages when power systems are exposed to high-impact, low-probability events. It will inform planning practices to help shape a robust, cost-effective and low-carbon Chilean transmission network.

The research also focuses on community resilience as a way to lessen the impact of outages and manage disasters, by ensuring households have response strategies that are complemented by resilience measures prepared for (and by) the community.

The application of this research will benefit power system planners, regulators and policy makers, contributing to the development of a more resilient, affordable and clean energy supply. Already, the Chilean independent system operator has included resilience as an explicit factor in its system planning for the first time and has proposed resilient network investments worth 50 million US dollars.

National and international networks developed through the project have built the capacity of researchers in the wider region, and the potential impact of this project could benefit countries affected by extreme weather and natural hazards worldwide.

“Attending the workshops and different activities organised within this project, I learned innovative concepts about planning resilient systems that I applied on a regular basis in policy making.” 

Oscar Alamos, Head of Risk Management and Energy Emergencies Unit, Chilean Energy Ministry

Disaster management and resilience in electric power systems

Project leads: Pierluigi Mancarella, Professor of Smart Energy Systems, University of Manchester and Rodrigo Moreno, Associate Professor, University of Chile

Delivery partners: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT)