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Climate change risk assessment of Irish energy transmission system

We undertook a climate change risk assessment of the energy transmission system in Ireland to identify potential impacts from current and projected climate on its assets and operations. We also recommended implementing climate change adaptation measures in the short, medium and long term in design development, maintenance and operation.

Our risk assessment and recommendations have provided a strategy to build climate resilience into the transmission system to help cut maintenance and repair costs and reduce the chance of future blackouts.

Key facts

Our commission from EirGrid to assess the potential impacts of climate change on the transmission system involved:

  • Providing information concerning the anticipated changes to the prevailing climate in Ireland.

  • Assessing how these changes could affect the transmission system.

  • Detailing what mitigation methods are available to reduce risk to transmission assets.

Assets were classified into overhead lines, substations and high voltage cables. The performance of these were then assessed against various climate impacts:

  • High temperature extremes and heatwaves

  • Low temperature extremes and cold waves

  • Wind

  • Salt fog/spray

  • Sea level rise, storm surges

  • Extreme precipitation patterns

  • Lightning

Based on the outputs of this we made recommendations to address priority areas with highest risk. These have also been categorised into recommendations to carry out in the short term (1 to 5 years), medium-term (5 to 20 years) and long term (over 20 years) to respond to gradual changes in climate.

Challenges and solutions

The requirement to identify measures that balance climate change aspirations and regulatory requirements was a challenge, along with the availability and quality of data.

We analysed all available data to ensure quality and engaged with stakeholders to obtain other relevant data. We informed and consulted with stakeholders throughout our processes to ensure that our recommendations were achievable and locally appropriate. We developed a robust process that included flexible recommendations and ran a technical workshop for our client to explain our methodology and the background science.

Values and benefits

This risk assessment and associated recommendations by our in-house specialists have provided EirGrid with a strategy to build climate resilience into the transmission system. This will help reduce maintenance and repair costs and reduce the chance of blackouts in the future.

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