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Australian climate risk software goes global

The Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI), a climate risk and adaptation analytics software developer, is scoring work at home and abroad from institutions, governments and asset owners looking to get hard dollars and cents insights on new or proposed assets.

XDI director projects Rohan Hamden told The Fifth Estate the technology checks investments are fit-for-purpose in a changing climate.

XDI director projects Rohan Hamden

Rohan Hamden

“Without this sort of analysis companies are wasting money and putting businesses at risk of failure.”

The software-as-a-service platform is cloud-hosted and uses NARClim, a 500-terabyte climate change modelling database from the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW.

Mr Hamden said this allows anyone, from an investor or asset manager to an engineer or analyst, to access the power of a supercomputer, with the capability to deliver quantities of analytic results within minutes that would otherwise take an engineer several days or more.

It shows the best value investment in terms of risk, and a cost-benefit analysis of pathways for mitigating risks or adopting adaptation strategies to increase resilience.

of ClimateKIC Australia chief executive Christopher Lee said the technology was a completely new class of business intelligence, and a new innovation export for Australia.

The company currently has 10 staff including coders, engineers, data specialists and project managers across offices in Adelaide, Sydney and Newcastle.

It is privately owned, and the core technology is part-owned by climate change consultancy and tech developers Climate Risk. XDI was formed as its own entity to be the main deployment arm for the technology.

Mr Hamden said as the company’s offshore presence continued to expand it was likely more offices would be opened to service the growing client base.

Australian governments get on-board

The software is currently being used to analyse all of Sydney’s transport assets including road networks and rail, in a joint project for the state government, local councils and asset operators, Mr Hamden said.

It is also providing the technology to the Victorian department of health and human services so it can analyse climate risks and the adaptation business case for around 80,000 social housing properties.

In addition to looking at climate-related risks, the technology allows the department to factor in the needs of its clients and ensure the right people are being placed in the right property.

For example, it can generate data that ensures clients with limited mobility are not housed in dwellings assessed as being subject to flooding or bushfire risk, Mr Hamden said. It can also identify those properties where insulation is inadequate, and this can then be integrated with plans for upgrades of properties.

In Queensland, SEQ Water is using the software to assess the resilience and adaptation measures required for the Mount Crosby Water Treatment Plant, the source of 80 per cent of the region’s water supply.

Mr Hamden said the outputs include an analysis of which measures will deliver the best result for lowest cost. These measures are not only those related to a specific asset, he explained, which is where cross-dependency comes into it. For the Mount Crosby site, the platform has identified that both roads and power connected to the site pose risks in the event of a one-in-1000-year weather or climate event.

The software generates the business case for the water authority to take to agencies responsible for roads and power, assisting with justifying an inter-agency response and shared funding of mitigation and adaptation measures.

Mr Hamden said the technology can also assist real estate investors decide where the least-risk properties to invest are located, and help those that invest in debt for infrastructure projects understand risks and whether the project will meet requirements of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Going global

New York City is one offshore client seeing the software’s value, taking up the technology to assess its waste water treatment system and assets. A city in Canada is also poised to ink a deal with the company, Mr Hampden said.

In Fiji and Samoa, a partnership with the Australian Water Initiative is seeing the technology used by the governments of the island nations to undertake a risk assessment of water infrastructure and build a business case for the world’s development banks to finance resilience projects.

Working with Climate Bonds Initiative

Climate-KIC Europe has also financed the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) to use the technology as a proof of concept solution to test the resilience and insurability of new financial bond-backed investment projects.

“The project with XDI will be incredibly useful to integrating climate change impact testing into the Climate Bonds Standard,” CBI chief executive Sean Kidney said.

“Even under the minimum climate change scenarios, we will see shifting weather patterns and more extreme weather.

“What’s the point of building a new rail line in China if it’s going to be deluged by flooding, or a solar plant in California that’s in the path of forest fires? Investors want to know that climate bonds are backed by projects that are built for a low carbon future and will cope with the warming world.”

XDI has also just launched a TCFD dashboard. This brings together climate data, real-time weather data and engineering data to present investors with information about the risk level of assets including buildings, telecommunications and energy infrastructure, transport infrastructure, water sector assets, ports and other assets.

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