• Tade Oyewunmi


Updated: Oct 11, 2021

In a Resilience, Reliability, and Gas to Power Systems in the US Journal of World Energy Law & Business (2021), I discussed the role of institutions and market operators in building resilience into energy systems planning. Resilience is considered as the ability to withstand high-impact and low-likelihood events that could cause significant operational disruption and societal impacts; while also highlighting the issue of reliability i.e. the ability of such energy systems to maintain energy delivery under standard ‘normal’ operating conditions mostly relating to fluctuations in demand and supply.

Although, a system could be inherently unreliable (e.g., solar and wind without storage) because it is based on the variableness of when the sun shines or wind blowing at the right scale and time, it may become relatively more resilient in the face of particular extreme events when compared to systems that are inherently more reliable (e.g. gas-to-power). The gas-fired system is ordinarily more reliable because the source of the energy capacity generated is based on proven upstream gas reserves, that are deliverable through existing networks and backed-up by firm contracts. As witnessed in the recent Texas scenario when compared to other parts of the country that witnessed similar extreme weather events; what makes the difference is not the systems themselves, but the planning and decision-making process that enables timely investments in the necessary resilience and reliability solutions. By highlighting relevant scenarios and contexts arising from the US energy markets, this paper examines the requirements of resilience and reliability for gas to power systems planning in an era of decarbonization.

From a public choice law and economics purview, policymakers, administrative agencies, market operators and other stakeholders can be irrational and therefore unable to identify and implement the package of solutions that is in the public interest if not properly guided. Such issues may arise where implicit biases regarding policy options and trade-offs lead to choices or decisions that are in reality contrary to the common good and less than optimal allocation of costs and benefits that follow such decisions and choices. The process of making choices and policy decisions in this context is complex and involves a clear understanding of the opportunity costs that are sometimes neglected while various interests and stakeholders hold on to what they want rather than the common good. In seeking resiliency and reliability of energy, the forgone costs should not be the health and safety of the consumers or the public.

Thankfully, I also had the opportunity to present the paper in the recent Faculty Workshop hosted by Saint Louis University School of Law Missouri, US, on March 24, 2021. See and download the slides below if interested:

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