Energy dimensions of urban resilience

Authored by: Antti Silvast

The Routledge Handbook of Urban Resilience

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138583597
eBook ISBN: 9780429506666
Adobe ISBN:


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A resilient energy infrastructure means an energy supply system – such as an electricity network – that can rapidly “bounce back” to delivering energy after different shocks and stresses – including “natural” disasters, difficult weather events, catastrophic system failures, cyberattacks, or operator errors. Energy infrastructure resilience is of considerable importance to recent writings on critical infrastructure protection, emergency preparedness, energy policy, and national security. It has also increasingly been addressed in the urban resilience literature. My contribution provides an overview of this still emerging area and is organized into three parts. The first part considers what resilience has meant in the context of energy supplies, drawing from various sources from academic research to policy works on energy infrastructure resilience. The second part, drawing especially from urban studies literature, begins scaling down these prior frameworks of infrastructure resilience, which have mainly examined resilience on the national scale and as concerns homeland security. The third and final part turns from these concepts and “indicators” of resilience to specific examples of disrupted infrastructures. These experiences from all over the world unpack how various urban energy systems have “bounced back” from the impacts of particular shocks and stresses. In the concluding part, I will relate urban energy resilience to current changes in energy systems and infrastructure – such as the growing share of renewable energy in the energy mix, the concurrent decentralization of energy systems, and the increasing digitalization of energy infrastructures for example in the “smart city”. Taking these wider transitions as the starting point, I address how they might enhance or reduce the capacity of urban energy infrastructure to respond to different stress and shock events and hence become resilient.

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