The climate adaptation session was earmarked to focus on extreme weather and cybersecurity and the need for power sector resilience. But as was the case for many of the discussions over the past two days, the issue of geopolitics was also raised.
Opening today’s session, moderator Göran Hult – VP of Nuclear and Development at Fortum – said while Europe has already experienced some severe weather events in recent years, it will need to brace itself for more.
Indeed, on the climate front, keynote speaker and EPRI’s President and CEO Arshad Mansoor, said that there was no choice between decarbonisation and resilience. We have to tackle both.
“You can’t say it’s either decarbonisation or resiliency – it should be both, but decarbonisation should be first,” he said.
Mr Mansoor said there were two key things that we should remember: firstly, the climate is changing – and secondly, that our reliance on electricity will continue to grow. With electricity use expected to quadruple by mid-century, he said the value of resilience will only increase.
Introducing geopolitics into the discussion, Stephan Lechner – Director, Euratom safeguards DG ENER, European Commission – reminded the audience that the EU has long been focused on regulation to support energy security and resilience. He said this began in 2014, when Russia first invaded Ukraine. It was followed by the launch of the Clean Energy package in 2016.
“Now we have led the EU from the Green Deal to Fit for 55, then there was Covid, then the resilience and recovery instruments… and when all of this was adopted… we see the invasion of Ukraine,” continued Mr Lechner.
Christine Materazzi-Wagner, Chair, ACER & CEER, agreed that we have sufficient regulation for keeping our networks and distribution systems safe. However, she added: “What we need is a clearer picture of what will come in the coming decades… What will happen during a cold spell when there is a heatwave somewhere else in Europe?”
Elsewhere, Alejandro Hernandez, Head of Unit Renewable Integration and Secure Electricity, IEA, said that preparations aren’t always enough. He cited the example of Texas’s power system which was designed to withstand hot summers, but not extremely cold winters. In February last year, widespread blackouts left millions of homes without power for days amid freezing temperatures.
Christina Papapostolou, European Affairs Director of Public Power Corporation (PPC) – Greece’s largest power supplier – revealed that resilience is very relevant to its new strategy. In fact, the company has been accelerating deployment of renewables in the middle of climate-related events such as wildfires.
And she added: “Climate change affects the investment decisions and the overall strategy… While creating our investment plan, it’s combined with the risks and analysis of climate conditions.”
Finally, on cybersecurity Mr Lechner said the cost should never be a factor. “If you think cybersecurity is expensive, then try to do without,” he said.