Dec 18, 2018 Last Updated 11:34 AM, Dec 18, 2018

Remaining resilient to beat power failures

Published in Talking Point
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Dr. Alex Mardapittas, CEO of leading energy storage and voltage optimisation brand Powerstar, discusses the impact of power failures in the public sector, and how new technology can eliminate the risks associated with supply issues while offering the added benefits of lowering energy consumption and costs.


Power failures and reputation are inextricably linked. High-profile incidents such as the power outage that caused British Airways’ IT systems to crash back in May, resulting in severe disruption to flights worldwide, illustrate perfectly the loss of both confidence and revenue such events generate.

Yet, many organisations remain unprepared for power failure. A recent report into energy resilience found that not only had more than 80% of those surveyed experienced a power outage, this had a knock-on effect of hitting their annual revenue by around 17%.

Despite the fact that more than half of decision-makers surveyed believed their organisation would experience an energy failure in the next year, around one third did not have an energy resilience strategy in place.

Saving costs, saving the planet

Rising energy prices, combined with increasingly stringent targets on carbon emissions, are encouraging the public sector to look at decentralised energy storage schemes.

At a national level, the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy pledges to invest £265m in smart systems to reduce the cost of electricity storage and to develop new ways to balance the grid. Included in this is the concept of a decentralised energy network, where energy is generated locally and makes the most of both energy efficiency and renewables.

Fuelled by fears about the security of energy supplied by the grid, investment in battery storage systems will help energy sources be more effective and secure, balancing demand put on the National Grid.

Capturing energy at off-peak tariff periods provides the opportunity to significantly reduce costs, particularly for large electricity consumers. Energy storage can offer a tailored solution for facilities of various sizes, allowing organisations to come off-grid and avoid peak tariffs. It is estimated that storing off-grid can save organisations up to 24% on electricity bills – particularly attractive to facilities such as hospitals, public offices and social housing schemes.

In fact, energy storage can achieve further savings by redirecting electricity back to the National Grid through Demand Side Response (DSR) incentives. Supporting grid capacity through DSR attracts financial reward for organisations that are able to be flexible with their energy consumption, increasing or reducing electricity usage as required.

Additionally, the flexibility of energy storage means the technology can be utilised for a variety of applications, including solar and electric vehicle charging.

Supply and demand

Systems can be implemented to support a backup supply to the load in the event of a power failure. On-site energy storage solutions are one example, with the ability to offer full Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that kicks in as needed, including within milliseconds to provide seamless support.

Electricity is captured at a time of low demand or through integrated renewable generation and stored, ready for use when required. This allows the user to come off the grid and switch to stored electricity as needed – in the event of a power failure, for example.

Adopting energy storage systems with full UPS capabilities will help organisations prepare for energy failures without any interruption whatsoever to the power supply, no matter what the cause of the power outage. Leading solutions can activate within a timeframe of just three milliseconds after a supply issue being detected – vital when figures show that blackouts or brownouts are becoming more frequent, with a 46% increase recorded in 2016 compared with the previous year.

Battery-based energy storage technology is an ideal solution for organisations such as the NHS, or those that are reliant on the continuous, uninterrupted functioning of IT or critical equipment. Additionally, if capacity needs to be expanded, more batteries are installed in line with demand, future-proofing the solution.

Experienced providers of energy storage systems should be able to deliver a concept-to-completion service including assessing and monitoring a building’s energy supply. They will also be able to advise on optimising processes, minimising consumption and other energy-saving options. As no two sites are the same, a bespoke plan can be put together to reflect the specific needs and requirements of each facility.

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