Infrastructure resilience: informed views solicited

Infrastructure resilience: informed views solicited

The UK suffered a wind drought in December 2022; on at least one day, coal power contributed more to the grid than wind power

Changing weather means changing infrastructure needs, engineers say, but there is a lack of detail on exactly how.

This consultation, although running for just two more weeks, seeks to gather evidence and views from industry, engineers and other stakeholders on priorities for infrastructure climate resilience and adaptation.

The 15-page paper, called How can the UK’s infrastructure be made more climate resilient?was initially published in November 2022 but has clearly not generated the response for which the organisers were hoping. They have now issued a call for responses ahead of the 27th January deadline.

Only about 4-8% of climate finance is going into adaptation but overall costs will be higher if we are not prepared for anticipated changes, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) warns.

One of the biggest problems to address, it says, is the lack of data. Evidence about the cost of inaction is scarce, but so is information about adaptation needs, particularly the availability of data that can reveal the interdependencies that exist across infrastructure sectors.

Gathering more information about how different infrastructure systems are connected and reliant on each other is essential to plan more effectively for the future, according to the ICE.

Over the course of 2022, wind power created 28% of UK electricity and coal just 1.6%. But in December 2022, the UK experienced a wind drought, generating just 3.4% of the nation’s energy on Monday 12th December 2022, even less than coal on that day (3.6%).

The government is committed to increasing wind energy production and to turning off gas and coal power stations by 2035, so there is a need to understand how energy needs will be met when weather-dependent renewable energy is not available, the paper suggests.

Stantec director of strategy David Smith, who as chair of the ICE’s sustainable resilient infrastructure community advisory board is chairing the consultation, said: “It’s clear that regardless of our progress toward our net zero goals, we need to be ready for climate change no matter what. Industry is used to building for extremes, but the definition and the frequency of weather extremes has shifted in recent years. We are going to experience more extreme weather events in the future, and we need to understand how to adapt existing infrastructure, how to build and adapt for our future needs, and who is responsible for making the decisions required.”

The Institution is seeking written responses on seven questions to gather informed insight on the polices required to adapt infrastructure and plan more resilient infrastructure for the future.

The questions are:

Question 1: Do we understand the current condition of critical infrastructure assets, their structural integrity, and the maintenance and retrofit measures needed to improve their climate resilience and adaptation?

Question 2: What evidence is there that new infrastructure is being designed and constructed to be climate adaptive?

Question 3: How can we ensure that infrastructure climate resilience and adaptation are considered by asset owners and policymakers at a systems-wide level?

Question 4: How do we enable accountability within the governance system for climate resilience and adaptation?

Question 5: How do we encourage the development of the following to support resilience and climate-adaptive infrastructure, both new build and legacy? What other aspects in these areas do we need to consider?

  • the regulatory system
  • the planning system
  • data-driven technologies
  • what works in terms of physical adaptations at ground level

Question 6: How can senior leaders in the public and private sectors build up investment in resilience and adaptation measures as well as focusing on new infrastructure?

Question 7: How can increased attention and funding for infrastructure climate resilience and adaptation beyond the water sector be encouraged?

Insights gathered as part of the consultation process will inform an ICE paper that will aim to provide options and recommendations for policy makers.

See for details.

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