Climatic Change

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 821-835

First online:

Assessing the potential impact of climate change on the UK’s electricity network

  • Lynsey McCollAffiliated withMet Office Hadley Centre Email author 
  • , Erika J. PalinAffiliated withMet Office Hadley Centre
  • , Hazel E. ThorntonAffiliated withMet Office Hadley Centre
  • , David M. H. SextonAffiliated withMet Office Hadley Centre
  • , Richard BettsAffiliated withMet Office Hadley Centre
  • , Ken MylneAffiliated withMet Office Hadley Centre

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We investigate how weather affects the UK’s electricity network, by examining past data of weather-related faults on the transmission and distribution networks. By formalising the current relationship between weather-related faults and weather, we use climate projections from a regional climate model (RCM) to quantitatively assess how the frequency of these faults may change in the future. This study found that the incidences of both lightning and solar heat faults are projected to increase in the future. There is evidence that the conditions that cause flooding faults may increase in the future, but a reduction cannot be ruled out. Due to the uncertainty associated with future wind projections, there is no clear signal associated with the future frequency of wind and gale faults, however snow, sleet and blizzard faults are projected to decrease due to a reduction in the number of snow days.