Power Sector Resilience: Flexible Adaptation Pathways

Power sector planners routinely make investments in major assets (e.g., power plants, substations) with expected operational lives lasting 30 years or more. For assets such as these, the uncertainties associated with projecting conditions and potential threats far into the future make resilience planning both critical and challenging. Uncertainty around future economic conditions, technological change, climate change impacts, and other factors presents a wide range of potential futures that power sector planners must account for in the investment decisions they make today. This creates tension for planners as they balance preparedness for the range of potential threats during an asset’s lifetime against the imperative to prudently minimize costs despite significant uncertainty about what the future will bring. The flexible adaptation pathways approach is a solution to this challenge that has been gaining popularity worldwide among resilience planners and that some electric utilities are beginning to apply.