Impact of Climate Change on Energy Infrastructure

There is no doubt that climate change has proved to be one of the greatest challenges of human civilization. During the past century, human activities have accelerated the production of greenhouse gases, leading to a warmer planet and disrupted the ecosystem we live in.

Climate change today poses a major threat to various ecosystems, including river systems, ocean climate, land cover, etc. India has a varied climate and distinct seasonal patterns. Economic activities such as agriculture highly depend on this seasonal pattern and climate change is vastly altering it, putting further pressure on food security and energy production as well.

Energy Consumption and Climate Change

Our daily lives depend on energy production right from goods transportation to water consumption and cooking. Our energy consumption mostly using fossil fuels contributes to climate change. For example, during warmer weather, more power is used for air conditioning, which in turn leads to increased emission of greenhouse gases. This makes the climate warmer, leading to higher energy requirements and so the loop continues.

The challenge is that our energy demands are growing at a pace that is currently faster than our ability to produce it with sources that have lower or no greenhouse gas emissions. For the time being, we will still need all forms of energy while also making necessary changes to keep the emissions in check.

Need to Upgrade Energy Infrastructure

Most of the existing energy infrastructure in India was built 25-35 years ago. Multiple parameters such as wind zone, soil structure, seismic zone etc., were factored in when those were created. However, the pace at which climate has changed over the past 30-40 years is enormous – wind zones, seismic zones and even river courses have changed. So, in order to avoid the potential impacts of climate change on energy infrastructure, we must upgrade the existing energy infrastructure. This can be done by bringing major technological innovations which work with the principle of following adaptation strategies that ensure minimal emission of greenhouse gases:

Adopting Renewable Energy Sources

When we talk about the current pace of climate change and increasing temperatures, there is an urgent requirement to move towards a different kind of power source, which the world has acknowledged by moving towards renewables. Technologies that use renewable energy have an advantage over conventional energy systems, as they have a much lower impact on the environment and are considered a clean source of energy.

There is a need to create supporting infrastructure at the pace at which renewables are being adopted. Renewable power plants need supporting infrastructure such as electricity evacuation in transmission lines. Typically, solar energy, wind energy or hydroelectricity is produced in remote corners of the country from where power needs to be supplied to major consumption centers such as large cities. Energy infrastructure companies such as Sterlite Power are setting up the much-needed transmission lines to evacuate power from renewable sources.

Carbon Capture Storage (CCS)

Carbon capture storage is a technology that can capture up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions that result from the use of fossil fuels in generating electricity or in industrial processes. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and restricts the ability to stabilize safe levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Carbon capture storage involves a three-step process of acquiring the carbon dioxide produced by human activities, transporting it to safe storage, and securely storing it away in depleted natural gas fields.

Energy Efficiency Improvements

Energy-efficient technologies use less energy but provide much better output, thereby ensuring the preservation of valuable resources. Improving energy efficiency reduces carbon dioxide emissions as well as the amount of energy used for a technology thus saving up on resources.

The entire energy infrastructure needs to be relooked for possibilities of upgradation to ensure energy efficiency. It is not only important to upgrade the electric conductors but also the transmission towers such as applying the right kind of protective coating on transmission towers to enhance the life of the entire asset by 15-20 years.

Reversing the Impact of Climate Change on Energy Infrastructure

A severe change in rain precipitation pattern has been observed as a result of the increase in the environmental temperature. Accordingly, the entire hydrological cycle has been disrupted, increasing the atmospheric water vapor concentration. This has led to excessive raining and flooding of our river systems and also a lot of soil runoff in agricultural areas attributable to changing river courses.

This tremendous impact on the river systems and frequent storms could disrupt energy production and delivery by damaging electricity infrastructure and similar physical assets, which are dispersed geographically. Electricity is one of the most critical infrastructures affecting economic growth and India being a country with varied climatic conditions, transmission & distribution infrastructure is much more exposed to the effects of climate change.

Electricity or power generation is backed up by various infrastructure systems such as transmission lines, which connect different energy sources namely solar power, wind power and hydroelectricity with other existing grids. All these systems can be hampered by floods and river course change caused by the climate crisis which can weaken the foundation of river crossings of transmission lines.

Sterlite Power, efficient energy infrastructure developer 

Considering the impact of climate change, it is crucial to select the right technology for power transmission as well as the design of transmission lines to be structurally stable enough to withstand the consequences of unpredictable environmental conditions and climatic conditions. Sterlite Power has stood out as a leading global developer of power transmission infrastructure, with a motto of “Empowering Humanity by addressing the toughest challenges of Energy Delivery”. This dedicated energy infrastructure company has successfully managed to build 22 projects spanning 12,478 circuit kilometers in India and Brazil that minimize the pressure on the environment, simultaneously catering to all energy needs.

Particularly, Sterlite Power has brought a revolution in the power sector by setting up river crossing transmission lines that traverse through some of the most difficult terrains including Ganga, Kosi and Narmada rivers. Through its experience in any type of adversity, in 2014, fierce Uttarakhand floods did not stop Sterlite Power from embarking on the challenges put afront. Barges with 1,000 metric ton capacity were anchored in the middle of the river to erect the tower amid Ganga’s high swings. Barge-mounted telescopic cranes with a 90-meter hydraulic boom enabled the erection of a 100-meter high tower from the foundation level with project inputs transported through mechanized country boats.

One Sun. One World. One Grid.

“One Sun. One World. One Grid”, the slogan issued by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the International Solar Alliance in February 2019, might soon become a reality. Especially power industry leaders are openly sharing their insights on this issue. In a recent article about the concept of inter-continental power grids in Fortune India, Pratik Agarwal – Managing Director, Sterlite Power has thrown light on how the time has come to take charge and work towards this universal concept.

With a steep decrease in the cost of solar panels and energy storage technology, this seems to be an affordable way of energy exchange in the near future. This exciting idea has the potential to lead the world towards a unique Green Energy Corridor, where one country’s sunshine can be the source of energy for another country where sun has already set. With its constant efforts to reduce the impact of climate change on energy infrastructure, Sterlite Power has invested in its people and processes and has put its best efforts to attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for providing universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy.

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