New research provides insight into protecting future energy infrastructure from natural hazards

New research provides insight into protecting future energy infrastructure from natural hazards

13th November 2018

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has supported the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) in publishing a body of research that identifies how natural hazards, such as extreme wind, flooding and hail, can be characterised to help improve energy system infrastructure design and inform investment decisions.

IChemE members Helen Fennell FIChemE, Director at Inherent Safety Consulting and John Munnings-Tomes FIChemE, Chief Risk Engineer at Navigators Technical Risk have contributed to reviewing and finalising the Enabling Resilient UK Energy Infrastructure: Natural Hazard Characterisation Technical Volumes and Case Studies.

This project has been funded by the ETI and delivered by EDF Energy, the Met Office and Mott Macdonald. It has captured the knowledge and learning from the project’s three phases into documents accessible to engineers who have responsibility for new or existing high value energy infrastructure assets.

An event hosted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and IChemE on 12 November celebrated the publication of the 12 technical volumes that summarise the state-of-the-art methodology on natural hazard characterisation. Five associated case studies featuring UK sites were also made available to showcase the demonstration of these methodologies.

The research papers and case studies are available at

Mike Middleton, Strategy Manager at the ETI who ran the project, said:

“Natural hazards, such as extreme weather combined with the effects of climate change, have the potential to cause damage or disruption to the UK’s existing and future energy system infrastructure. The level of protection afforded to assets within this system are for operators, owners and regulators to decide. These decisions impact the resilience of our energy system and such decisions can be better informed and supported through the application of consistently documented good practice in characterising the range of natural hazards relevant to the UK.

“This is why we undertook the project and have made the knowledge available to industry, organisations and individuals with the assistance of the IMechE and IChemE. We anticipate that this knowledge may be useful to designers, operators, regulators, owners and investors.  It can be applied to new assets during design, or investment in existing assets through upgrades or life extension. Although developed in association with the UK’s energy system, the knowledge potentially has relevance to broader infrastructure including transport and the built environment.”

Claudia Flavell-While, Director of Policy and Publications at the Institution of Chemical Engineers, added:

“Extreme weather events are on the rise around the world, and we have to expect that natural hazards will continue to pose a significant risk to energy infrastructure. We are proud of the role our members have played in developing these documents, and the role we can play in sharing.”

Hugo Winter, Natural Hazards and Environment R&D Manager at the EDF Energy R&D UK Centre and Chief Technical Officer for the project said:

“The suite of documents available after this project provide a consistent assessment of the risks posed by a variety of natural hazards to UK energy infrastructure. The technical volumes summarise relevant good practice for characterising each natural hazard and are supported by a set of case studies which illustrate how the available data and methods for each hazard can be used to provide a site-specific assessment.

“This is one of the first projects to cut across such a variety of hazards. One aim is to move away from the development of research in silos and thus highlight potential synergies; it is also anticipated that these documents will sit as a bridge between academia and industry. To support these aims, additional research has been undertaken in this project on a selection of less well understood hazards (e.g. space weather, marine biofouling) to bring the understanding closer to the level of more well-known hazards (e.g. flooding). This has been successfully delivered with the expert consortium including EDF Energy, the Met Office and Mott MacDonald.”

Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“As a professional engineering institution, projects like this are crucial to sharing best practice. Every year we see extreme weather events unfolding all over the world and having information to hand, like that provided from this project, will help our engineers design resilient infrastructure for future generations.”

The technical volumes and case studies from the Natural Hazards project are available to download from the ETI’s knowledge zone on its website and on the IMechE and IChemE websites.


For more information please contact:

Tara Wilson, Head of Communications, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534454

Rachael Fraser, PR and Communications Executive, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534435

Lisa Jones, ETI
t: +44 (0) 1455 245250

Alice Treherne, ETI
t: +44 (0) 1455 245250

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, maths and economics in the process of turning raw materials into everyday, and more specialist, products. Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world. Oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the products where chemical engineering plays a central role.


With an international membership exceeding 40,000 in around 100 countries, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) aims to be the organisation of choice for chemical engineers. It promotes competence and a commitment to best practice, advances the discipline for the benefit of society and supports the professional development of its members.

IChemE is the only organisation to award Chartered Chemical Engineer and Professional Process Safety Engineer status.


The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce and Shell – and the UK Government.

The role of the ETI is to act as a conduit between academia, industry and the government to accelerate the development of low carbon technologies. We bring together engineering projects that develop affordable, secure and sustainable technologies to help the UK address its long-term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits. We make targeted commercial investments in nine technology programmes across heat, power, transport and the infrastructure that links them.

EDF Energy

EDF Energy is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand and supplying millions of customers and businesses with electricity and gas.

It generates electricity with eight nuclear power stations, more than 30 wind farms, one gas and two coal power stations, as well as with combined heat and power plants.

EDF Energy is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. This will provide low carbon electricity to meet 7% of UK demand. The project is already making a positive impact on the local and national economy, British industry, as well as boosting skills and education. EDF Energy also invests in a range of low carbon technologies including renewables and battery storage. It is applying research and development expertise to improve the performance of existing generation and developing the potential of new technologies.

The company provides gas and electricity for more than 5 million customer accounts and is the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in Great Britain and the largest supplier to British businesses. It offers innovative energy systems for commercial customers and digital innovation for customers at home. EDF Energy has also launched its own innovation accelerator, Blue Lab, which focuses on making customers’ lives easier.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was established in 1847 and has some of the world’s greatest engineers in its history books. It is one of the fastest growing professional engineering institutions. Headquartered in London, we have operations around the world and over 120,000 members in more than 140 countries working at the heart of the most important and dynamic industries such as the automotive, rail, aerospace, medical, power and construction industries.