Adaptation and Resilience In Energy Systems (ARIES)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Biological Sciences


The energy supply sector is undergoing massive technological changes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the climate is progressively changing creating new challenges for energy generation, networks and demand. The Adaptation and Resilience in Energy Systems (ARIES) project aims to understand how climate change will affect the UK gas and electricity systems and in particular its 'resilience'. A resilient energy system is one that can ensure secure balance between energy supply and demand despite internal and external developments such as climate change. The physical changes in climate up to 2050 coincide with the energy sector moving towards a low-carbon future, with massive renewables targets, new smart grid infrastructure and more active demand management. As such, it is of importance to identify whether new technology and policy strategies for reducing emissions also imply changes in energy system resilience. A particular concern is that increasingly large renewable energy targets aimed at decarbonisation may create new vulnerabilities given the weather-dependency of renewable energy sources. With affordable, secure energy critical to the UK economy it is imperative to fully understand the risk posed by changing climate for the energy supply sector and its infrastructure. ARIES will develop new methods to model the impacts of climate changes on current and new energy generation technologies and understand its effect on gas and electricity demand. It will identify the impacts that these new supply and demand patterns have on energy system resilience and will suggest changes or adaptation that can 'build-in' resilience.

Planned Impact

The Adaptation and Resilience In Energy Systems (ARIES) consortium is setting out to understand the risks that climate change poses for the UK electricity and gas systems. We expect the impact of our work to be seen at three levels: The Science and Engineering In creating new knowledge and methods that move the science and engineering forwards across several related research areas including power engineering, climate science and built environment. To build expertise in a relatively new but important and complex research field and particularly to train young researchers to address complex multi-disciplinary problems. Energy Industry and Government To assist our energy industry and government partners understand the implications of changing weather on energy supply and demand and through a risk framework help them plan to maximise benefits and minimise risk of disruption and damage. For example, ARIES will help National Grid to identify specific threats and combinations of events that challenge their ability to supply energy securely and economically and to help them develop strategies that respond effectively to them. ARIES will help Scottish Power Renewables understand future renewable resource variability and change which is a major business risk for their wind and marine energy generation business. We will also work with the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure that the risks of climate change are full assessed and that, Government, on behalf of the people, can make sound decisions for our energy future based on the evidence available. The Public To deliver public benefit through minimising the physical and economic threats to energy supply which are an essential part of the modern economy. To raise awareness of the complex interactions between energy and climate and individuals' role in building a resilient society.
Description Up to 2050, a changing climate will affect renewable energy (solar, wind and hydro) through changes in resource and operational performance but changes are modest and tend to reinforce existing seasonal and regional variations.

Some resources such as solar and hydropower are likely to increase slightly, while wind and wave show limited changes. In most cases the need for adaptation is low but there appears to be evidence for positive adaptation measures to maximise yields from small-scale hydropower.

Whilst there are clearly climate impacts on both supply and demand, the expected changes appear to be less significant than the changes that will be brought about through technological and behavioural change arising from efforts to decarbonise (primarily as a result of changes in the housing and transport sectors).
Exploitation Route Our outputs may be fed into the CCRA or used directly in other related modelling.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description So far much of the impact has been academic with a very healthy number of UK and overseas groups picking up our findings and extending the methods. The summary of the project outcomes has been fed into Ofgem's Adaptation Report 2015 as evidence of relevant analytical work on energy networks as well as providing the basis for a Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) 'Climate Change Report Card' on Infrastructure (Cradden et al, 2016) and an LWEC Policy and Practice Note (Cotton et al, 2016). This work features prominently in the evidence for the 2017 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, specifically in the Evidence Report (Chapter 4, Infrastructure, Dawson et al 2017).
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Centre for Energy Systems Integration
Amount £5,059,153 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P001173/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2021