Prospective Students







2003-04 Seminars

Energy Infrastructure and Security

Alex Farrell
UC Berkeley


Concerns about how to safeguard key infrastructures (energy, communications, banking, roads, etc.) from deliberate attack are longstanding, but over the last decade increasing emphasis has been placed on the possible impacts of terrorism. Activities to address these concerns are sometimes called Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP), which is somewhat different from the longstanding concept of ‘energy security,’ which focuses on politically- and economically motivated supply interruptions. Energy infrastructures differ somewhat in their principal security concerns. Electricity systems are among the most difficult of infrastructures to safeguard because of the infeasibility of storage, their complexity and the potential for cascading failures. Parts of the oil and gas infrastructures are among the most concentrated in the world, especially production and refining. Nuclear infrastructures pose risks that are uniquely global and dreaded by the public. This review discusses how energy infrastructure and security are related, how it differs from most traditional energy security terms, and what it may mean for private and policy decisions. Key concepts include redundancy, diversity, resilience (or security), storage, decentralization, and interdependence. The concept of CIP is still relatively new and is likely to evolve over time, possibly away from a ‘guards, gates, and guns’ defensive approach and towards a design approach that yields systems that are inherently harder to successfully attack. Such survivable systems may feature distributed intelligence, control, and operations.