In the face of climate change, population growth and accelerating urbanisation, infrastructure owners and operators are being exposed to an unprecedented rise in resilience challenges. With the systems that operate our transport networks and power our homes being pushed to breaking point by unforeseen risks and events, organisations are still expected to provide and maintain a reliable service for their end users.  

As the energy sector transitions towards decarbonising and electrifying heat and transport, pressure to protect the long-term resilience of the electricity supply is growing. With society becoming increasingly dependent on electricity as a critical source of energy for our homes and businesses, the National Grid needs to know what challenges lie ahead.  

As owners and operators of the electricity transmission network in England and Wales, National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) commissioned Arup and The University of Manchester through Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) funding to deepen its understanding of its resilience challenges and priorities. Our team developed a comprehensive approach to designing, delivering and managing NGET’s network, helping drive continuous improvement across its electricity transmission grid. 

Planning for the Energy Resilient Network

Our Energy Resilience Framework provided the baseline from which NGET’s resilience approach was developed, drawing on extensive research, cross-sector collaboration, and best practice reviews.
Building resilience through co-creation

We designed a Resilience Assessment Framework to form the basis of NGET's strategic approach to resilience, supported by a Quantitative Resilience Assessment (QRA) to provide detailed information on asset resilience. The QRA, developed in collaboration with The University of Manchester, is a tool that consists of a physical network model with detailed geographical asset information combined with a geographical weather hazard model.

Designed by specialists in energy network modelling, the QRA considers a network’s response and resilience to shocks and stresses caused by rapid change scenarios such as extreme weather. The QRA and Resilience Assessment Framework work together to help NGET identify where performance meets best practice, and where there are opportunities for building resilience that allow the network to thrive even when faced with shocks and stresses.

A systematic approach to resilience

This systematic, risk-based, network stress-testing approach clearly addresses one of the recommendations set out by the National Infrastructure Commission in their Resilience Study to the UK government.

The work was centred around collaboration and co-creation, and informed by extensive engagement with various business functions within NGET, collating the organisation’s views and capturing perceptions and priorities for resilience. Our cross-sector experience at industry and organisational levels allowed us to consider resilience beyond physical assets to include the processes, people, policies and procedures that are critical in the function of the electricity transmission system. Much of the concept work occurred during COVID-19, resulting in virtual conversations, relationship building and the extensive use of digital tools to capture, quantify and share information.

This new Resilience Assessment Framework helps us develop a proactive approach and the foresight to identify where there may be challenges and opportunities for resilience improvement.

Ben Kuchta

Innovation Engineer, National Grid Electricity Transmission

A future ready network

The project was about proving a concept. We have successfully developed a forward-looking approach with the potential to enable NGET to understand the economic, social and environmental benefits of operating a resilient system. 

Creating a system that can be relied upon to meet the daily needs of households, businesses, services, and government is fundamental. NGET has increased confidence that the measures the framework can output will help mitigate disruptions, respond effectively to ongoing change in the energy landscape, and improve everyday operational readiness. 

Despite remote working and with an ambitious delivery timeline, our team recorded, assessed and validated insights based on current and future projections from key NGET stakeholders. This bespoke concept has been recognised by NGET as a pioneering piece of work, with the flexibility to meet its operational requirements and resilience aspirations.