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3.4. Infrastructure risks from extreme weather events

Extreme weather events such as coastal and inland flooding, storms, heat waves and wildfire events can lead to direct physical impacts on energy infrastructure (Schaeffer et al., 2012; EC, 2013a; Troccoli, 2018). An examination of about 40 major blackouts worldwide over the past 40 years found that weather was the most important primary cause. Within this category, storm damage to the transmission system was the cause of half the failures. Other notable weather effects were drought (loss of cooling water) and ice build-up on transmission lines (Boston, 2013).

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Many extreme weather events are projected to increase in frequency and/or magnitude as a result of climate change. Without appropriate planning, maintenance and operations, direct economic losses to energy systems could amount to billions of Euros per year by the end of the century (Forzieri et al., 2016, 2018). Overall impacts on society could be much higher than direct losses, because damage to critical energy infrastructure can result in failures and cascading effects onto related and dependent infrastructures, with far-reaching economic and social impacts (Karagiannis et al., 2017; Varianou Mikellidou et al., 2017).

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