Response to the Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026

Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan

Undergrounding to better withstand extreme weather events and build increased network resilience

On 09 July 2021, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP) released the 'Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026'. The purpose of this action plan is to shape the first Built Environment Adaptation Action Plan to set a solid foundation for climate-resilient cities, towns and neighbourhoods

Overview

Climate change is affecting us in many ways. The Victorian Government recognises that our changing climate brings unprecedented challenges and is committed to leadership on climate change action.

The Victorian Government is preparing adaptation action plans for seven key systems. The Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026 sets out how they intend to address the challenges that climate change has on the built environment.

The Built Environment system comprises our cities and towns along with supporting infrastructure and services, such as energy. Climate change threatens the resilience of the built environment, the integrity of its assets and its ability to provide reliable services.

Adapting our Built Environment to climate change is an investment in saving lives, reducing trauma and minimising economic damage from disasters.

The Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026 has a focus on key hazards that pose a risk to the built environment – bushfires, extreme heat, drought, coastal inundation and flash flooding. It looks at what is already in place to respond to these risks, opportunities to strengthen our responses in the face of climate change, and next steps to build greater resilience over time across what we build, where we develop and how we make decisions.

This draft is the first in a series of five-year adaptation action plans that will take Victoria to 2050. Comments and ideas will help make the Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026 a strong basis for tackling these challenges.

Energy Grid Alliance have provided a submission to this action plan with an emphasis on routing transmission lines away from, or undergrounding, energy infrastructure to build increased network resilience.

Submission summary

The health, safety and prosperity of the Victorian community are reliant on essential services supported by certain infrastructure. Emergency events – whether natural or human-induced – pose a risk of disrupting the ability of critical infrastructure providers to deliver essential services to the community. Furthermore, the complex, interconnected and often interdependent nature of critical infrastructure in modern society increases the risk of a disaster-causing systemic failure.

Routing critical transmission infrastructure away from bushfire prone areas or underground, would enable our energy networks to better withstand extreme weather events and build increased network resilience.

Increasing frequency of dangerous fire weather poses a threat to most assets, with a particularly high operational risk to transmission lines due to heat and smoke. It is also an important consideration in transmission line route selection and design.

According to AEMO, "good engineering design will ensure that any new infrastructure does not lead to unsustainable deterioration in grid resilience. Building additional transmission lines along a bushfire prone transmission corridor would be an example of resilience deterioration".

AEMO, AEMC, AER and East-coast NEM Participants have been put on notice by the disastrous bushfire season that hit Australia in the summer of 2019/2020. The business plan for future NEM development cannot remain “Business as Usual”. Climate Change induced disasters must force a review of the Business Plan for the NEM.

In countries like Australia that are prone to bushfires, underground HVDC Transmission Interconnectors or Transmission lines solve at least two problems for NEM Transmission and Distribution Participants in the event of bushfires and in planning the Risk Management of their Assets during bushfires.

Underground HVDC as opposed to Overhead HVAC or HVDC Interconnectors or Transmission lines are not at risk of starting bushfires.
Underground HVDC Interconnectors or Transmission Lines do not need to be turned off if they are in the path, or in the vicinity of a Bushfire.

This submission includes:

  • Ensuring Resilient Energy Infrastructure
  • Case Study 1: Western Victoria Transmission Network Project (WVTNP)
  • Case Study 2: Wild Weather 9 June 2021
  • Case Study 3: Extreme Storms 31 January 2020
  • Case Study 4: Bushfires 30 December 2019
  • References
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