Electricity sector and interdependencies

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


The Resilience Shift has partnered with the Electric Infrastructure Security Council to expand their ‘EARTH EX’ simulation exercises – a proven approach to understanding inter-dependencies in practice through a ‘black sky hazard’ scenario.

The scenarios have been used at workshops to test 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.

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

The report is now available here. 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 in EARTH EX are around:
• Planning and plan integration.
• Cross-sector co-ordination with tools and techniques.
• Communications capabilities.
• Workforce preparation.
• Co-ordination.
• Resource management.

For more information please read the report. Early findings were shared at a joint event with Resilience First and the EIS Council in December 2019.

It is hoped that direct beneficiaries from this work will be 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. We are also sharing this with corporations, including those directly providing critical infrastructure services, and those whose supplies and services are essential to the functionality of infrastructure providers.

We look forward to involving them by participating in further all-sector exercises planned in this project. This will provide an opportunity for all corporate sectors to begin working together to develop unique, all-sector protocols or, in some cases, critical tools that will be essential to deal with such crises.

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.

How are we doing this?

We are implementing 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 have been 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.

The results of these exercises will be used to iteratively formulate materials for a coordinated, multi-sector resilience planning series for different countries (UK initially) in future phases. We will further work with EISC to explore developing EARTH EX Global to become a truly international exercise. We expect to achieve a good understanding on how to adapt the exercise to other geographies and countries, including the developing world.

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 have been captured in a workshop report (see below).

We have delivered a summary report (see below) 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 is also exploring 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 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




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


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”.