IChemE to publish guide on natural hazard infrastructure threats

Article by Neil Clark

AN ENGINEER-focussed guide to help better understand the threats presented by UK natural hazards to energy infrastructure assets will be released in 2018.

The guide will be published by IChemE and IMechE, and is the result of a £1m (US$1.3m) Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) project led by EDF Energy R&D UK, supported by the Met Office and Mott MacDonald.

The document aims to develop better awareness and characterisation of natural hazards relevant to the UK, including extreme wind, flooding and hail.  ETI hopes that this will then be used by project engineers to support the development of resilient energy infrastructure assets, and to better inform investment choices into new or existing assets.

The three-phase project was launched in 2014, in response to recognition that over the next three decades the UK would be investing in a wide range of high value assets, including power generation. Therefore, the design and operation of assets must be robust to satisfy developers, financiers and industry-specific standards and regulation.

Early in the project, weaknesses in the current methods of characterising natural hazards relevant to assets were identified, along with improvements that could be made. These have been compiled into a complete list, which includes new methods of characterising hail, the biological fouling of assets in the marine environment, cooling water intakes, space weather, and lightning.

The final report will also consider the effect of climate change upon natural hazards, which are predicted to become more frequent, alongside descriptions of combinations of hazards. Case studies will support its content, to demonstrate different locations including offshore, coastal, estuaries and inland.

ETI strategy manager Mike Middleton, who is running the project, said: “Greater awareness has the potential to improve decision-making in the investment in design, construction and operation of high value energy infrastructure assets necessary to protect them against the range of threats from natural hazards.

“The guide will be designed to be easy to use and accessible to project engineers making decisions about a range of future infrastructure projects, including energy assets, road and rail schemes and residential developments.”

IChemE director of policy and publications Claudia Flavell-While said: “IChemE is delighted to support this project. News reports from Houston remind us of the importance of risk management in the chemicals sector in the face of natural hazards, including extreme weather.

“Tackling complex engineering challenges requires close collaboration between engineering disciplines and we welcome this opportunity to work with the ETI and IMechE,” she added.

Article by Neil Clark

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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