In August 2019, a power outage affected business and services across large parts of England and Wales. The blackout caused chaos – with planes grounded, traffic lights knocked out and commuters stuck on trains for up to 8 hours.
An investigation by the energy regulator Ofgem has since found that more than one million customers were affected when two large generators were taken offline by lightning strikes. This week (Jan 2020), it has been announced that three companies will pay out £10.5m in redress.
Speaking about the investigation, Ofgem’s executive director, Jonathan Brearley, said: “Consumers and businesses rely on generators and network companies to provide a secure and stable power supply. August 9 showed how much disruption and distress is caused to consumers across the UK when this does not happen. As the energy market changes it is vitally important we futureproof the networks.”
With that in mind, says Paul Brickman from Crestchic Loadbanks, what can businesses and organisations do to ensure that they have a strategy in place to deal with losses in mission-critical power at a local level?
First and foremost, argues Paul, large businesses that rely on power to remain operational should consider installing their own back-up power or UPS system. If the power fails, the system would kick in, providing back up power and mitigating the risks to the business.
However, simply having a system in place is not enough. Generators and backup power systems are not infallible. To ensure that they will work as required in the event of a power failure, it is critical that back-up power systems are tested in-situ, both at commissioning stage and on a regular basis thereafter.
Paul explains, “A load bank is used to create an electrical load which imitates the operational or ‘real’ load that a generator would use in normal operational conditions. Ideally, all generators should at the very least be tested annually for real-world emergency conditions. Doing so ensures that system issues can be uncovered in a safe, controlled manner without the cost of major failure or unplanned downtime.”
“The reality is, in many instances, that those in charge of maintaining backup power have no regular testing schedule, making an assumption that occasionally powering the generator up, or testing for a minimal period will suffice. However, In the event of a power outage like the one in August 2019 – when the UK lost 5% of its total power – the impact on businesses can be enormously costly, while for hospitals failed backup power could mean a threat to life.”
While the government, regulators and power companies are working closely together to mitigate the risk of power failure to the country’s infrastructure, businesses for whom power is critical would do well to consider taking a more localised approach. At the very least, by having backup power in place and adopting a proactive testing regime, businesses are taking preventative action towards mitigating the catastrophic effects of power failure.
For more information about Crestchic load banks, the critical role of power-testing or to discuss your requirements, visit www.crestchicloadbanks.com or call +44 (0)1283 531645.
Northbridge Industrial Services (LON:NBI) has two core activities, Crestchic Loadbanks and Tasman Oil Tools. Crestchic is a specialist electrical equipment business which manufactures, sells and rents loadbanks and transformers from its base in Burton on Trent and has depots in France, Germany, Belgium, UAE and Singapore. Crestchic also has satellite locations in China and the USA.