Planning power systems in fragile and conflict-affected states


Novel approaches are necessary to accelerate the provision of reliable electric power in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Existing approaches to planning power system investment tend to ignore conflict-related risk and its serious consequences. Here, we propose a framework for identifying power system investment strategies in fragile and conflict-affected countries, and apply it to South Sudan. Our results show that investment strategies that explicitly consider the challenges posed by potential conflict may improve the reliability of electricity service over the status-quo approach. Our analysis suggests investing in a diverse mix of supply types in the medium term, and building a power system with redundancies or a higher share of local resources in the long term, to reduce vulnerability to conflict and socio-political fragility.

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Fig. 1: Schematic of the proposed scenario-based, conflict-aware planning framework.
Fig. 2: Schematic describing the effects of conflict on power systems.
Fig. 3: Scenario and decision tree considered for the South Sudan case study.
Fig. 4: USE rate when the status is ‘conflict’.

Data availability

The code and data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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E.S. is an Onassis Foundation scholar and thanks the Onassis Foundation for research support. The authors also thank the Paul Scherrer Institut for providing a copy of the Energy Infrastructure Attack Database.

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E.S. reviewed the literature, conducted the analysis and wrote the main manuscript text. All authors helped plan the analysis and reviewed the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to E. Spyrou.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary notes 1–13, Supplementary Tables 1–53, Supplementary Figures 1–2, Supplementary references.

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Spyrou, E., Hobbs, B.F., Bazilian, M.D. et al. Planning power systems in fragile and conflict-affected states. Nat Energy 4, 300–310 (2019).

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