Larger companies may find it easier to adapt electricity grids to climate change, suggests a recent study from Norway and Sweden

A recent study has explored how national regulations and culture, company size and experience with weather incidents have influenced adaptation to climate change in electricity distribution companies in Norway and Sweden. Smaller companies in a strongly regulated environment, with less experience of extreme weather events, may find it more difficult to pursue climate change adaption results, the study suggests.

This study investigated the extent to which four electricity grid companies in Norway and Sweden have adapted to potential changes in the climate. Both countries have similar climate conditions, but the companies operate in different national contexts. Two large-scale and two small-scale electricity grid companies in each country were analysed for their response to the impact of increased temperatures and precipitation (rain and snow), greater variability in the weather and more extreme weather events anticipated in the future. The researchers explored the company adaptation responses using information from national and local official reports, in addition to interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including company representatives, municipal authorities, regulators and interest groups.

Of the four companies investigated in this study, investments by the two Norwegian companies were found to be strongly based on economic efficiency. This approach reflects the influence of the national regulatory framework that is efficiency-focused, in addition to an organisational culture where economic efficiency has a higher profile than other issues, such as the robustness of the system and the grid.

In contrast, the two companies in Sweden focused on investments that balance robustness of the grid and economic efficiency, reflecting the national regulatory framework. The Swedish companies have consequently been able to invest more in adaptation measures than the Norwegian companies.

A major storm in Sweden in 2005 caused wide-spread damage and influenced climate views of Swedish electricity companies. The extreme weather event exposed the vulnerability of the grid to future severe storms. One consequence has been for the larger Swedish company to speed up investment in underground cables to replace overhead transmission lines. Such investments are also seen as economically feasible in the long term.

In Norway, the companies have experienced an increased frequency of heavy snow. While the companies regarded the replacement of overhead lines with underground cables as  too costly, the larger Norwegian company has adapted by increasing maintenance of the system, in addition to investing in insulated overland lines which are stronger and better able to withstand the weight of the snow.

In addition, the larger companies have more resources to plan for adaptive measures to cope with future climate change than the smaller companies. Local knowledge in small companies does not provide enough expertise for adapting to future vulnerabilities.

Source: Inderberg, T.H. and Løchen, L.A. (2012) Adaptation to climate change among electricity distribution companies in Norway and Sweden: lessons from the field. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.17 (6-7): 663-678.

Webinar on Middle and High School Climate Curriculum

Dear Colleague,

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Center for Essential Science at the University of Michigan has developed an 8-week middle school unit and a 14-week environmental science high school curricular unit focused on climate change and the impacts of climate change.  We are currently looking for additional middle and high school teachers who would partner with us to teach these units either this fall or next winter/spring.  

Therefore, we invite you and any middle and high school teachers you know to an informational webinar on Thursday, September 27, from 6-8 pm eastern. This webinar will provide a preview of our climate change curricular lessons and laboratories and answer any questions you may have about participation.


If you agree to partner with us in the 2012-2013 academic year, you will receive:

All the necessary supplies to implement the curricular activities and laboratories

Teacher binder and student notebooks for each of your students

Individual teacher and student log-ins with teacher access to all student online responses

A member of our project staff assigned as an individual support person for you and your students

If interested in attending the webinar, please send RSVP email to vanessa peters at: .

For more information including an agenda of the webinar, please go to:

October 3, 2012 Workshop in Paris- How can Grids protect and enhance the Environment?

The Renewables-Grid-Initiative is hosting workshop on “How can Grids protect and enhance the Environment? Implementing the European Grid Declaration”.

The meeting takes place in 3 October 2012 in Paris. The agenda is found at

Adjunct Professor Muir will be presenting on marine aspects of the offshore electricity grid infrastructure This is the first time that marine aspect of the Grid Declaration (an agreement between trasmission service operator and environmental organizations) is being considered.

Workshop speakers include:
Chair: Antonella Battaglini, RGI
• Michel Badré, French Environmental Authority
• Loretta Boman, OFGEM, UK
• András Demeter, DG Environment, EU Commission
• Nick Droy, RSPB
• Ric Eales, Collingwood Environmental Planning
• Katja Horenk, 50Hertz Transmission
• Elodie Jaussaud, RTE
• Sébastien Lépy, ENTSO-E
• Magdalena Muir, Coastal & Marine Union
• Clémence Salvaudon, French Museum for Natural History
• Ivan Scrase, RSPB
• Frauke Thies, EPIA
• Jean Verseille, RTE

Registration is available at:

The environmental impact of grids has previously been discussed in prior activities, also available on the RGI website:
- The European Grid Declaration with new signatories.
- The European Grid Conference where the Declaration was signed and handed over to Energy Commissioner Oettinger (November 2011, Brussels)
- The documentation of the last RGI workshop on The Need for Grids (June 2012, Hannover).
- The documentation of the first RGI workshop on Environmental Impacts of Grids (June 2011, Glasgow).

Renewable energy presentation delivered at Nigeria at UMYU – CERER Renewable Energy 2012 Conference

A renewable energy presentation was delivered on September 4, 2012 by Professor Magdalena Muir at the UMYU – CERER Renewable Energy
2012 Conference in Katsina, Nigeria. The Umaru Musa Yaradua University in a prominent university in northern Nigeria. The The Centre for Renewable Energy Research was established in May 2008, and operates research groups for solar energy, wind energy, small hydro, biofuels and energy efficiency and conservation.

Nigeria is focusing on the present and future role of renewable energy to meeting current and future energy needs, to provide energy securityand economic development, and to assist in using water resources and meeting water demands. Renewable energy can provide the necessary energy security and economic development in Nigeria, both in the presence of a reliable electricity grid infrastructure and in the absence of that infrastructure. Renewable energy can also support efficient and cost-effective water management and sanitation for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes within Nigeria. Approaches to renewable energy in other parts of the world were highlighted in that presentation, and can provide insights and models for the development of renewable energy in Nigeria.

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Consultation on the Preparation of the European Union’s Adaptation Strategy for Climate Change

Prof. Magdalena Muir is an Advisor on climate change to the Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC), and External Lecturer with Aarhus University and participant in the Nordic Centre of Excellence for Strategic Adaptation. Prof Muir contributed to the preparation of submissions on the EU Adaptation Strategy on behalf of these organizations.

The EU consultation seeks to collect opinions from stakeholders and experts in the field of adaptation to climate change, with a view to getting additional information for the preparation of the EU Adaptation Strategy. The public consultation is EU’s next step in building climate adaptation into EU directives and policies, following the issuance of the White Paper- Adapting to Climate Change: Towards a European Framework for Action in 2009.

Further information on this consultation on the EU Adaptation Strategy is found at

Contributions to this consultation will also be subsequently posted on this website.

Ocean Iron Fertilization Geoengineering: New Study on Deep Carbon Export

Proposals for ocean iron fertilization (OIF) geoengineering  contemplate the seeding of swaths of high nutrient-low chlorophyll ocean regions to stimulate the production of phytoplankton blooms that can sequester carbon dioxide when sinking from the surface to the deep ocean. To date, twelve OIF experiments have been carried out, with most demonstrating that the addition of iron to high nutrient-low chlorophyll regimes, primarily in the Southern Ocean, can generate substantial phytoplankton blooms that sequester carbon. However, the critical second element of the OIF hypothesis had not yet been established, that is, whether the bloom biomass would ultimately sink in the same manner as natural blooms to depths where the carbon could be stored for centuries or longer. Many have expressed profound doubts about this second element, arguing that a substantial portion of the phytoplankton produced through OIF would be consumed by zooplankton species prior to sinking to the ocean’s bottom and/or that a substantial portion of the bloom would be rapidly mineralized and respired.

In a recent article in the journal Nature, researchers report the results of a five-week experiment conducted in the closed core of a mesoscale eddy of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current during an OIF experiment carried out in 2005 (the European Iron Fertilization Experiment, EIFEX). Among the take-aways from the study:

  1. Large diatoms accounts for 97% of the observed chlorine increase;
  2. Massive phytoplankton blooms can develop in a mixed layer as deep as 100 meters;
  3. The results in EIFEX support the second element of the OIF hypothesis, with at least half of the bloom biomass sinking below a depth of 1000 meters, with a substantial amount likely reaching the sea floor, where it may sequester blooms for centuries in ocean bottom water, and even longer in sediments.

This is a very technical article that would not be appropriate for non-science students; however, the results would be worthwhile to include in geoengineering lectures.