Societal Impacts & Power Systems

PhD project of Mengqi Ye

Power networks provide vital services for a modern society and are characterized by being highly interconnected in a variety of ways. The loss of power systems during weather extremes can potentially result in widespread, catastrophic impacts that may seriously disrupt socioeconomic activities. In practical terms, there are many interdependencies through which the indirect impacts of a major power outage ripple through social interactions and economic activities. However, both the scarcity of power infrastructure data and the complexity of power systems make it challenging to model the exact socioeconomic impacts of power outages in the aftermath of weather extremes. As a result, underestimation of the risks associated with the failure of power systems could lead to the underestimation of the true benefits of investing in power infrastructure adaptation.

In this project, I set out to improve our understanding of the socioeconomic impacts of climate extremes on power systems in Southeast and East Asia, and assess adaptation options to enhance system resilience. I will develop a systemic framework for power system risk assessment, incorporating: 1) power system map, by developing a geospatial power infrastructure dataset in Southeast and East Asia; 2) interdependency, by building a failure model to identify the cascading effects within interdependent power systems; 3) system resilience, by assessing the combined resilience of society and power network itself to catastrophic weather events; and 4) potential electrical failure-related economic losses, evaluating the benefits of different adaptation options of power systems to extreme weather events.

This project is funded by China Scholarship Council (CSC) and Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU Amsterdam.