even if the mains supply experiences a disturbance. These types of
sites typically also have a generator with adequate fuel, and this
takes over the power once it is up to load. Of course, generator
maintenance and fuel quality monitoring are just as important.
At a practical, individual level, the recent power outages will
probably lead some people to consider using laptops where feasible.
These can be a good solution but in today’s world it is common for
users to still need access to remote files or Cloud hosted applications
– and obviously if the power is o at the site hosting those files, this
creates problems. Equally, many users find that desktops are, power
for power, more cost e ective than laptops so for applications like
CAD work, graphics or running other sophisticated applications,
laptops are not a viable solution. Low cost, single device UPS
systems can be bought very inexpensively, however the challenges
of maintenance and capacitor replacement do still apply and
are potentially exacerbated by the increased number of devices.
Therefore, many organisations use a single, larger UPS to support
a bank of computers running this type of application. This reduces
the complexity of managing lots of single-device UPS systems, is
more likely to ensure the UPS is adopted by an organisational IT
department, ensuring scheduled maintenance is being carried out.
The other advantage of using a slightly larger UPS, one that covers
more devices, is that product sophistication increases. Typically, this
means that the UPS has better power conditioning – holding both
voltage and frequency stable - and is always “on-line”, rather than
kicking in only when the power drops.
THE FM PROVIDER’S VIEW
LEE STOKES, HEAD OF SUSTAINABILITY SOLUTIONS &
INNOVATION FOR MITIE ENERGY
The UK’s biggest blackout
in more than a decade
should serve as a wake-up
call to British businesses
and the UK’s energy
industry. While National
Grid did all it could to keep
the power on, there was
still a shortfall. This clearly
demonstrates that when
it comes to maintaining
power supply, businesses
need to take charge and
ensure they are able to
mitigate against any future
While the power loss of one business may seem slight compared
to some the UK’s most important transport infrastructure, for our
customers this can be equally devastating to their operations. For
example, for one of Mitie Energy’s clients operating a specialised
production line, a power outage means tens of thousands of pounds
in costs as a result of spoiled product.
There’s certainly no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to
preparing for a future incident – that’s why we recommend a multilayered
22 OCTOBER 2019
The most direct way to protect against power issues is to increase
resilience, by installing equipment such as uninterruptible power
supply or a battery energy storage system (BESS), both of which are a
store of energy that can be called on should the National Grid supply
The success of power resilience equipment, however, is heavily
dependent on ensuring it is regularly maintained – many businesses
were caught short in the recent blackout when their diesel
generators failed to kick-in upon the loss of power. Our customers
work with us to ensure regular maintenance of their equipment were
in the best position to ensure a steady supply of power during the
However, the best way to be truly protected against National Grid
power loss is to come ‘o Grid’. We help our customers achieve
this by negotiating a ‘private wire’ Power Purchased Agreement
(PPA) that’s independent of the grid. Energy is generated and used
locally, meaning it never requires the use of the National Grid to be
transported over power lines and therefore there’s no grid charges.
This gives the added benefit of significant financial savings, as well
as protection in the case of a blackout.
To take it one step further, companies that want an even greater
level of resilience and independence from the national power
supply have the option to generate their own power with on-site
renewable energy – such as solar, wind or ground source heat
pumps. If implemented correctly, these solutions can provide total
independence from the Grid while also reducing the business’
The best approach to ensuring resilience in your business’ power
supply is in fact a combination of several of these approaches.
Taking it back to our customer operating the specialist production
line, we have designed a mix of techniques – including the use of
power resilience installations as well as on-site renewable energy
generation. If there’s one thing we have learnt from the recent power
cut, it is that this multi-method approach is the only way you can
truly be protected from large scale outages.
With the nation’s energy usage likely to increase, the latest
blackout is unlikely to be a standalone event. Creating a resilient
system is the only way a business can ensure it is protected – the
time to act is now.
Do you have a question that you’d like
answered by the FMJ Clinic?
ADVICE & OPINION