Understanding energy system interdependencies

Learning through collaborative black sky simulation and exercises to better build multi-sector resilience.

Aims

For several years, the Electric Infrastructure Security Council (EIS Council) has delivered the global resilience exercise, ‘EARTH EX’, that simulates cascading failure scenarios involving a number of factors. Simulation exercises are a proven approach to understanding inter-dependencies in practice, and the EIS was keen to build awareness of a implications of a ‘black sky hazard’ scenario. It also shared the consequent learning from participants about how best to respond and prepare to such uncertainties.

Having participated in the exercises in 2018 and 2020, The Resilience Shift partnered in 2019 with the EIS Council to test the use of the scenario methodology at workshops in London and Glasgow, United Kingdom, to see the value of improving understanding of interdependencies and multi-stakeholder response to crisis, and how this can inform better preparedness for such events, and promote critical infrastructure resilience.

The report from these workshops is available here.

In 2019, EARTH EX III  was open to play between August and October and was the largest resilience exercise ever with over 11,000 individuals and nearly 2,000 organisations participating from 38 sectors and 42 nations.

Its conclusions include that the impact of a major loss of electricity supply would rapidly expand into water, communications, food supply, finance and beyond. It is simply not credible to assume that because any one organisation was well prepared that it could continue to function when all services around were rendered inoperable.

The six resilience-focused lessons learned from EARTH EX are around:
• Planning and plan integration.
• Cross-sector co-ordination with tools and techniques.
• Communications capabilities.
• Workforce preparation.
• Co-ordination.
• Resource management.

The report from that exercise is available here.

Early findings were shared at a joint event prior to publication, with Resilience First and the EIS Council, in December 2019.

Direct beneficiaries from this work are government agencies that have a key role in both UK and multinational advance planning and real time coordination, as well as a role in development of critical all-hazard tools. This is also of value for corporations in all sectors, including those directly providing critical infrastructure services, and those whose supplies and services are essential to the functionality of infrastructure providers.

Project leaders

Xavier Aldea Borruel
Project Leader

Xavier is a chartered mechanical engineer and is Programme Manager for the Resilience Shift. Xavier has 10 years experience as an engineer, researcher and project manager, and has expertise in resilience of critical infrastructure, flood risk management, climate change and sustainability, with a strong professional background in the water sector.

EEX2021 – register to play before 1 September 2021

How are we doing this?

We implemented EARTH EX sector exercises in the United Kingdom, allowing critical infrastructure players to improve their planning to black sky events by adopting systems thinking, cross-sectorial approaches. Two EARTH EX resilience exercises were hosted in the UK (London, 28th February 2019 and Glasgow, 4th March 2019). These exercises help corporate and government teams, and community leaders anywhere in the world to build interconnected resilience planning.

What are the outputs?

For the development of EARTH EX global we designed and developed an all-sector exercise focused on a complex, large scale catastrophe and tested this in workshops. The findings are captured in a workshop report. We delivered a summary report with early findings from the global resilience exercise EARTH EX 2019 to assess lessons learned, as a guide to the current status of resilience for critical sectors, and to assist in understanding gaps needed to help plan future exercises.

In a parallel project, The Resilience Shift has also explored the resilience of the electric utilities sector in terms of incentives for resilience and the best practice within the sector. It has captured this learning in one of a suite of resilience 'primers': Electric Utilities: an industry guide to enhancing resilience 

Project Resources

EARTH EX 2021

EARTH EX 2019 promotional video

 

2019's EARTH EX is now closed for play but you will be able to register for EARTH EX 2020 next year so subscribe to our blog to get updates.

About EARTH EX 2019

EARTH EX//19, which took place between August and October 2019 provided an opportunity for organisations to examine and rehearse critical executive and operational decisions required before a full operational exercise. For individuals, families and community groups, it helped with basic preparations, and with planning that can help secure and sustain participants during an extreme disaster. Find out more about how EARTH EX works.

A personal view of taking part

The Resilience Shift took part in EARTH  EX 2018 both at an organisational level and as individuals. Find out how we got on. Read our blog post on preparing for resilience to black sky hazards

 

 

Collaborators

Electric Infrastructure Security Council (EISC) facilitates national and international collaboration and planning to protect our societies’ critical utilities against uniquely severe black sky hazards. Its programming and special projects help utilities and their partners develop and implement cost effective, consensus-based protection measures by hosting frameworks for sustained coordination, planning and best practice development.

Over the last 10 years EIS Council hosted and continually refined the ELECTRIC INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION (EPRO®) SECTOR process, an expanding multi-sector, systems engineering-framed resilience planning development effort specifically developed to discover and help resolve complex, interdependent disaster scenarios. This planning effort grew rapidly in recent years through development and synergistic use of EARTH EX, a family of compelling, media-enhanced exercises.  EPRO SECTOR and EARTH EX together have now become a mature, integrated planning engine that could be upgraded to support focused resilience planning for a wider set of countries.

EISC collaborators include:

Avi Schnurr, CEO and  President
John W. Heltzel, Director of Resilience Planning
Lord Toby Harris, UK coordinator, The Electric Infrastructure Security Council

Events

Lord Toby Harris has been involved in resilience and security issues for many years. Among his current activities, he acts as UK Coordinator for the Electric Infrastructure Security Council (EISC). He is very clear on his motivation for working with the EISC and the Resilience Shift on their collaboration to improve critical infrastructure resilience.

“My concern is how resilient we are as a society to withstand a major shock to our critical infrastructure – primarily the electricity supply and distribution infrastructure but it could be water or communications or food. The point of electricity is that most of our other critical systems are dependent on power”.