Objective & Background
Natural hazards have the potential to cause damage and disrupt energy systems. Some examples include the European heat wave in 2003, the Fukushima event of 2011, and a marine biofouling event at Torness in Scotland, which caused a nuclear reactor to be shut down for 11 days.
To fully understand the risk posed by natural hazards, it is necessary to combine information about the hazard itself with the vulnerability and exposure of different assets. Without an appreciation of the different approaches available to characterise hazards, our understanding of the overall risk may be lacking. This is not acceptable given the value of, and requirements for, energy infrastructure. It is also clear that climate change requires adaptation to hazards with an increased frequency and/or magnitude. The Energy Technologies Institute launched this project to better understand the range of UK natural hazards to be considered, review best practices and identify limitations and gaps.
The project was split into three phases. In phase 1, a review of available mature methodologies for hazard characterisation was undertaken. Sectors impacted by each natural hazard, examples of industry applications, lists of existing guidelines and regulatory frameworks impacting the UK, trends in R&D and gaps in the current literature were also identified. Five hazards for which limited information was available were hailstones, lightning, space weather, marine biological fouling and hazard combinations.
In phase 2, additional research was undertaken to address these gaps by experts from different organisations within the project consortium. A plan to communicate the findings together with production of technical volumes and case studies was developed.
A set of high quality documents summarising good practice for natural hazard characterization was produced in phase 3. These documents aim to be consistent across natural hazards and accessible to end-users from a variety of different industries. A key aspect was the rigorous peer review of all the material.
The documents consist of a set of twelve technical volumes supported by five case studies. The technical volumes summarise the science behind hazard characterisation and the case studies show how this science can be applied to a specific site. The technical volumes cover the five hazards investigated in Phase 2 and six other hazards for which there was good existing knowledge (there is also an introductory volume).
This project is the first to bring together a set of technical volumes and case studies that are directly focused on characterisation of natural hazards in a consistent way, and describe good practice in an accessible form for industry. Twelve technical volumes were produced together with five case studies to show how the science can be applied at different sites. Although this project focused on the characterisation of natural hazards for UK energy infrastructure, the methods and results could be used by other industries and in other countries. The technical volumes and case studies are freely available online, from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the UK.