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  • Writer's pictureTade Oyewunmi

Resilience, reliability and gas to power systems in the USA...

In Resilience, reliability and gas to power systems in the USA: an energy policy outlook in the era of decarbonization, The Journal of World Energy Law & Business, Volume 14, Issue 4, August 2021, I examined the important role of gas supply to power markets play in ensuring resiliency and reliability of energy supply. The paper recognizes that energy transitions and decarbonization policies are driving competition between various traditional and emerging net-zero, carbon-neutral, and low-carbon energy sources and technologies. Generally, energy policy aims at ensuring affordability, sustainability, cost-efficiency through viable markets, and security of supply. Nevertheless, resiliency has become a major dimension of energy policy that requires keen consideration.

In the energy context, building resilience into systems planning involves understanding the plausible size and scale of such high-impact and low-likelihood events to cause significant operational disruption, system damage, and devastating societal impacts; while the reliability of the energy system speaks mainly to its ability to maintain energy delivery under standard ‘normal’ operating conditions mostly relating to fluctuations in demand and supply.

A system could be inherently unreliable (eg solar and wind) because it is

based on the variableness of when the sun shines or the wind blows at the right scale and time and yet prove to be resilient in the face of particular extreme events. In comparison, systems that are inherently more reliable (eg gas-to-power), because the source of its energy capacity comprises proven upstream reserves, that are deliverable through existing networks and backed up by firm contracts, could be less resilient during such peculiar and disruptive events.

The paper discusses resilience and reliability as key dimensions of US energy policy from a public choice perspective. It highlights the need to identify and implement the policy package that is 'really' in the public interest, which includes a secure and reliable supply of essential energy resources. It considers the role of timely investments in resilience, reliability, and systems planning. The paper underscores the need for developing a more efficient framework that would enable relevant stakeholders to avoid the risk of opportunity cost neglect, informational gaps, and fragmented institutional coordination that could escalate the social, health, safety, and economic impacts of future disruptive events such as the February 2021 winter storm Uri that tested the resilience of energy supply infrastructure in the US.

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