As part of the construction of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, solar energy generation was integrated into the roof design to supply local power for times when the main grid was compromised. Today, onsite solar plants and third-party renewable purchases contribute 25 per cent of the total electricity needs of the airport.
As storms and sustained heavy snowfalls in Finland continued to challenge the reliability of power distribution in the country, Finnish utility Elenia integrated its power distribution and data systems into a comprehensive smart distribution grid. In the event of power outages, the Elenia network automatically isolates fault locations, directing power distribution to parts of the grid that are functioning normally. To improve network reliability, Elenia is using underground lines in new network construction and when renovating older sections of the existing power grid.
The GCA also highlights the role of improved gathering and use of data, particularly around early warning systems. Not only do these protect assets worth at least ten times their cost, they safeguard communities and ultimately save lives.1 Spending $US800 million on early warning systems in developing countries would avoid $US3-16 billion per year in losses alone.2
Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the Philippines’ largest renewable energy company, has taken steps to increase its resilience following Typhoon Urduja in December 2017, which saw 1,400mm of rainfall in four days, disrupting plant capacity by more than 50 per cent. EDC installed geohazard early warning systems and more robust modelling of potential slope failure and landslide risks. The business is also investing to reconfigure and reinforce pipelines and cooling towers to protect against seismic disruption.
While it is clear that public and private entities will need to form long-term infrastructure adaptation solutions, developing a system that recasts the costs and rewards for adaptation will be challenging. 85 per cent of private investors want to increase their infrastructure investment in the next five years3 but the investments will not occur without sufficient revenue streams and recognition that investment now preserves value later.
Asset owners, such as pension systems and sovereign wealth funds, and their constituents could play a vital role in influencing the course of climate change adaptation, Nicholson said. “Many pension investors are currently in their twenties and thirties, and care passionately about climate issues. They want their savings to be invested carefully with people who are attuned to resilience because it impacts the future in which they are going to retire.”
Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake is a founding Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation