Rise in severe weather threatens grid operations: Accenture study

Bengaluru, May 16 (IANS) More than nine in 10 executives at electric utilities believe that climate change has contributed to increased extreme weather events that their electricity networks have experienced over the past 10 years, said a study by Accenture.

In addition, 90 per cent believe an expected rise in severe weather poses an increased financial risk to their grid businesses.

The study — the sixth edition of Accenture's Digitally Enabled Grid research — is based on a survey of more than 200 electric utility executives in 28 countries, including India.

“Around the world, high-impact weather-related events are becoming more frequent and more severe. In 2018, India's southern state of Kerala suffered its worst monsoon flooding in a century severely impacting the electricity distribution infrastructure in the flood-ravaged areas,” Sanjeev Arora, Managing Director and Lead — Resources, Accenture in India, said in a statement.

“Events like this and Cyclone Fani in 2019 in eastern India have shown us the impact of extreme weather conditions in disrupting network operations,” Arora said.

About 92 per cent survey respondents said they expect severe weather to increase in the next 10 years.

At the same time, 88 per cent said maintaining network resilience to extreme weather will result in significant increases in network prices for customers, while only one-quarter of the respondents believe that their businesses are very well prepared to deal with the impact of extreme weather, with one in 12 reporting being poorly prepared.

“With various parts of the world affected by droughts, wildfires, and flooding in addition to the U.S. hurricane season just around the corner, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and impacting the electricity grid,” said Stephanie Jamison, a global industry senior managing director who leads Accenture's Utilities business.

“Greater system flexibility, delivered through digital and emerging technologies, will be critical to optimising grid resilience in a cost-effective and timely manner,” Jamison added.

More than nine in 10 respondents (95%) believe that building greater adaptability into the network — such as network reconfiguration, embedded storage, redundancy and voltage management — over the next 10 years will be critical to increasing overall resilience.

Further, 93 per cent see system flexibility as the most cost-effective approach to deliver long-term resilience.

“Utilities need a forward-looking, holistic and flexible grid resilience strategy, with right regulatory measures, proactive investments and maintenance, to bounce back quickly from major and even multiple events — whether it's from extreme weather, cyberattacks, earthquakes or even a pandemic,” Arora said.



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