It is certainly clear that keeping the lights on in winter is becoming increasingly challenging. With this in mind, contingency planning for a winter without power is critical, especially with the recent news from the National Grid declaring that the spare electricity capacity has dropped to a mere 1.2 per cent, the lowest Britain has seen for a decade.
But what happens if the lights do go out? The increasing risk of a winter without power means that there is a need to safeguard not only the most obvious aspects of the nation’s infrastructure — the banks, petrochemical plants, power stations, hospitals and the government — but to also ensure that the air, road and rail networks are able to manage in the event of power outage; that water supplies are not affected and that emergency services can still communicate effectively.
To overcome this, businesses should be investing in larger UPS systems in order to store more energy for peak time usage; the more storage available, the more prepared a business can be. Additionally, although having a large UPS is important in itself, the UPS must also be fitted with energy saving batteries and other electrical components to keep the UPS running for as long as possible, as efficiently as possible. After all, it would not be useful to have a UPS in place, only to discover at a critical moment without power that it has reached its maximum capacity.
With the right UPS in place, organisations can be assured that these critical aspects of the national infrastructure will keep running irrespective of power outages. Essentially, if you put a UPS on a key traffic light intersection, the traffic continues flowing, and the emergency services can respond as required; provide a UPS to support a hospital’s internal phone system and staff can continue to communicate irrespective of power problems.
Of course, when it comes to the prospect of a power outage, there is also a financial consideration for businesses. Power stations and water companies, rail providers and emergency services are all subject to budget constraints and strict targets in terms of efficiency — failure to meet these targets will result in fines, damage to brand image, and an impact on shareholder value.
It is clear that the nation’s reliance on power cannot be underestimated; it’s a business critical matter. Safeguarding precarious infrastructure is as much about protecting the smooth operation of the nation as it is about safeguarding the smooth flow of revenue – and power contingency is now a fundamental aspect of business planning.
Andy Parfitt, Harland Simon UPS.