Climate Resilience of EDF's Current Fleet: Impact of Flooding and Erosion from Extreme Rainfall

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Geography and Planning


This project contributes substantially to enhancing the UK's resilience to climate variability and change through working with key stakeholders to ensure research is fit for purpose. This advance will be achieved by embedding a high qualified researcher in EDF to apply new modelling techniques that examine the vulnerability of their power stations to flooding and erosion from extreme rainfall.

Embedded researchers play an important role in connecting businesses and environmental managers to current state-of-the-art in research approaches and techniques. By being embedded in EDF, the researcher will establish a good understanding of day-to-day working, drivers, decision-making contexts, and knowledge and information needs as well as the regulatory requirements for implementation. The researcher will establish an excellent understanding of both operational and planning requirements of flood risk assessment, and vulnerability thresholds for the associated hazard of erosion from surface water flows. The researcher will also identify the organizational mechanisms whereby this improved assessment is put into practice through planning, management and the implementation of the necessary mitigation measures. The researcher will, therefore, develop an intrinsic understanding of the problems due to flooding and erosion from extreme rainfall events, and then bring appropriate knowledge and innovative tools to bear on how these climate-related hazards are best predicted and communicated. Working with both EDF colleagues and University of Liverpool academics, the researcher will undertake assessments of flood and erosion risk that provide useful and usable information, "working collaboratively to generate new knowledge, synthesize and communicate findings to promote learning across relevant science and business domains."

The risk modelling comprises models of flood and erosion hazard (probability of impact and extent) and damage (economic loss), the product of which are probability maps of buildings and structures at risk. A hydro-erosion model will be used to produce these maps, allowing the risk to nuclear power generation and decommissioning from extreme rainfall events to be assessed. This model predicts how much rainfall becomes runoff, how runoff is routed according to slope and relief, and how the resulting flows are then able to erode, transport and deposit sediment. Model outputs are fine scale maps of flooding, erosion and deposition, updated slope and relief, and runoff through time.

To provide an assessment of erosion hazard from changing event intensity and frequency, UK Climate Change Projections will be used to generate rainfall depth duration frequency curves and river discharge time series for the next 60 years. To quantify the business impact of extreme rainfall and the vulnerability of assets, the project will forecast the economic loss caused by physical damage, judging the cost of mitigation measures against the associated economic benefits.

Project outputs will be disseminated to energy sector stakeholders through workshops, conferences and webinars, showcasing how decision-relevant risk data can optimise the deployment of resources and reduce operational costs. This dissemination provides an opportunity to deliver a 'common language' for the communication of storm-related risk, and set an example of best practice in using risk-based analysis to inform operational decision-making.

The outputs will include:
- Scientific insights into the changing flood and erosion risk to nuclear power stations as a result of climate projections
- How erosion hazards influence the vulnerability and resilience of these safety-critical assets to a changing climate
- An integrated quantitative predictive modelling framework and decision-support tool that provides the much needed strong evidence base for sustainable, resilient decision making
- Deepened engagement between scientists and stakeholders in the energy sector


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