Climate and cyber resilience, key to electricity’s future: IEA

future of electricity IEA

Climate change, cyber-attacks, and energy transition resilience will be key elements for electricity’s future, the new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.

The report, published yesterday, “offers recommendations for how to respond to evolving challenges for electricity systems, from growth of variable renewable electricity, cyber threats, and extreme weather events.”

As the climate change crisis brings to the surface the urgent need for an energy transition, and as technology keeps leaping to greater and greater scopes, the electricity sector becomes one of vital importance globally.

In fact, the electricity demand increased by 50% in just 20 years, and the trend is accelerating according to the IEA report. By 2040, electricity could be the primary source of energy in the whole world.

Thus, “the need for robust electricity security measures will become a prerequisite for the proper functioning of modern economies”, the IEA report says.

As the sector worldwide shifts rapidly from conventional power plants to several energy producers feeding the grid with variable sources, technology would offer these new and more complex systems the resilience they need.

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New policies for electricity’s future

In this scenario, conventional power plants, which provide the majority of the grid’s flexibility, are declining, especially those powered by coal and nuclear; so, technology and digitalization will enable new opportunities for consumers and producers of renewable to have a more active role in the new decentralized systems.

“The challenge for policymakers and system planners is to update policies, regulation, and market design features; they have to ensure that power systems remain secure throughout their clean energy transitions”, IEA explains.

Nevertheless, the increasing use of technology and digitalization makes the grid vulnerable for cyber-attacks, as the “threat actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated.”

That’s why cyber resilience will be a vital element in electricity’s future.

Therefore, governments worldwide would need to develop different approaches in regulatory policies for the matter, and so ensure cyber resilience in the entire value chain.

Finally, about climate resilience, the IEA states: “it facilitates clean energy transitions, enabling more electrification solutions; also accelerates the transition to renewable energy technologies, which are often sensitive to a changing climate.”

To ensure it, governments would have to design policy measures that encourage businesses to adopt resilience measures and prevent market failure. Finally, it offers 5 points to establish a framework: institutionalize, identify risks, manage and mitigate risks, monitor progress, and respond and recover. It was added that the agency would be at the center of any cooperation efforts to ensure a new future for electricity in any country and region.  

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