Over a year has passed since we posted a news article on our blog following the UK’s most severe blackout in over a decade. Little did we know that just over 12 months later, vast numbers of us would be working from home due to a global pandemic. This in itself has changed the requirements of our power supplies, with many of us working from home and increasing our wifi/data consumption.
However, the National Grid claim their biggest challenge is balancing the supply with the actual demand dropping well below average levels.
Localised Power Cuts
Throughout the summer, locations up and down the country suffered from power outages leaving, residents and businesses in the dark. This has prompted more enquires about back up power solutions, to overcome the instability of the National Grid. Many businesses have already felt the strain with staff on furlough, reduced opening hours and fractured supply chains, and so could do without any additional power problems.
A quick search on Google News highlights how common and widespread power cuts have become over the summer, affecting residential and commercial customers.
Norwich experienced a power cutback in August where local people woke up to find they were without power as was reported in the Eastern Daily Press. The problem was traced back to be a fault with a piece of electrical equipment, with power restored at 9:30 am.
Andover & Whitchurch
The Basingstoke Gazette reported in June that hundreds of homes were left without power for over three hours, with rural villages and households across Whitchurch disconnected from the National Grid. An SSEN spokesperson said: “We’re sorry for the loss of supply. We currently have a fault. Our engineers are on site working hard to get the power back on as quickly as they can.’
Dorset Police actually benefitted from a power cut in Poole, where SSEN electricians visited a house when there was a power outage after network infrastructure had been interfered with and left damaged. The visiting electricians found cannabis plants and subsequently reported the find to the Police, as covered by the Bournemouth Echo.
The whole town of Kettering suffered from a loss of power on September 24th with lights and TV’s off and the internet going down, leaving those working from home rather stuck.
These local examples are just a drop in the ocean when it comes to power failures as the National Grid continues to run into reliability issues. For people whose livelihood depends on the power being on, backup solutions are something to seriously consider.
We have a range of options for commercial premises to ensure day-to-day business can continue without disruption.
Coronavirus Impact on the Demand for Electricity
Millions of us now rely on electricity more than ever at home, but the National Grid state that we should not be concerned about the electricity supply, suggesting they have all the best procedures in place to manage the effects that the pandemic has had on the electricity supply.
Electricity demand is currently significantly lower than usual, due to a decrease in energy use from commercial and industrial consumers. However, managing a lower demand for electricity is just as difficult as it is to manage the peaks.
According to Current News ‘The pandemic has sent demand in the UK tumbling, with around a 20% drop from this time of year generally. This coupled with soaring renewables production has created challenges for National Grid to keep the grid balanced.’
Capacity Market Notices
Strangely enough, a demonstration of the strain of balancing the demand was the electricity capacity market notice issued on the 15th September.
Capacity Market Notices are an advance signal that there may be less generation available than National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) expects to need to meet national electricity demand. The notices flag that the risk of a ‘System Stress Event’ in the electricity network is higher than under normal circumstances.
The Capacity Market Notice instructs generators to be ready to meet the shortfall so that the Electricity System Operator are able to ‘keep the lights on for customers’. Given the notice came during a warm period of weather, it shows how fractious the system currently is.
For those feeling uncomfortable about the shifting demands, frequent outages and struggles with the grid, there are solutions to safeguard the power supply, such as backup generators, USPs and more solutions.
The UK’s ‘decaying electricity network’
National Grid CEO John Pettigrew has warned that Britain could be at risk of power blackouts ‘due to a decaying electricity network’ as cancelled projects mount up. One example reported in the Daily Mail was Sheffield, which relies on two power lines to power the whole city. The £40 million plan was denied by Ofgem, who told The Times newspaper that the National Grid had not demonstrated the need for a replacement.
With plans to spend £10 billion on UK networks now halved, many businesses and organisations need to take steps to protect their power continuity and futureproof their organisations from the issues facing the National Grid.
Staggering Social Media & Cryptocurrency Demands
The technology sector, including Social Media giants Facebook are some of the biggest users of electricity in the modern world.
According to Statista– “Facebook’s electricity consumption has gradually increased over the last years, reaching 3.43 terawatt-hours in 2018. Facebook has set goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent in 2020.”
The amount of electricity used by Facebook when compared to Bitcoin is dwarfed. Bitcoin is estimated to use 61.76 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity per year, which is more than the entire country of Switzerland uses. With the computing power needed for mining Bitcoin, it is crucial to futureproof against the potential struggles of electricity generation.
The landscape is certainly shifting with other new technologies becoming more commonplace such as electric cars and cryptocurrencies as two examples.
To Conclude, How Resilient Is Your Business?
How prepared is your facility, business or organisation for a power outage? The UK is currently going through turbulent times, with workers in limbo between heading back to the office and staying at home, parents concerned about sending children back to school and the hospitality sector waiting for the green light to kick start again.
Power is not always a primary concern until a problem occurs and our reliance on it is plain to see. Our team of engineers and experts have continued to work throughout the pandemic supporting businesses and equipping clients with the correct equipment, ready for them to power on, even when the mains are off. Through the winter months, the demand for power surges and the weather changing for the worse, will only increase the strain on the National Grid even further. Now is the time to review your power continuity plans and get the safety net of backup power or an alternative power supply in place.
Speak to our team of technical experts today about your concerns and shore up your power supplies with Shenton Group.