Protecting the UK Power Supply

Source : PSE Oct/Nov 2019


Terence Smith, head of global growth at JCB Power Products, discusses the UK’s power failure on 9 August 2019 and how they are looking to help ensure similar situations don’t occur again.

The Guardian newspaper described the recent UK power outage as a “rude awakening,” one that should “ring alarm bells about the resilience of British infrastructure to rare, but far from unprecedented, events.”

Immediate media focus was on the large public impact; over a million people plunged into darkness, hospital failure, commuters imprisoned by the rail networks, airports and traffic light failures, and therefore less so on the underlying risk facing individuals and businesses every day.

The increasing strain on the UK power network is such that the National Grid has bought forward plans for safeguards after the country’s largest blackout in a decade, and with ‘The Energy Emergencies Executive Committee’ due to publish its review of the recent power system disruption and make recommendations for essential services, now is the time for industry, both public and private, to protect themselves against future outages.

Generators designed for continuous use are visible throughout the UK; from construction sites to large sporting and music events, but the “invisible hero” in an outage is the back-up diesel generator. All operations from public sector and infrastructure, to manufacturing and agriculture have the ability to protect against the damage to service delivery and revenue from the potentially devastating loss of electrical power.

Backup diesel generator power is a proven technology that works throughout the UK; protecting drying grain and temperature controlled potatoes to safeguard the food supply, ensuring the security of personal and business information in data centres, and of course protecting the running of the nation’s hospitals. All of this is done ‘behind the scenes’, from a discrete box in a plant room or simply installed and connected at the back of a building.

It is the perfect time for the UK to prepare itself. Of course the risk of disruption to UK power is greater than ever (from the real evidence of the National Grid power cut, to the seemingly lower risk of cyber-attack, oil price disruption, or terrorism on energy), but equally importantly the technology with which to do so is cleaner, more reliable and more affordable than ever before.

Due to the infrequency of operation, there is no legislative emission standard for fixed standby generators in the UK, with use restricted to emergency running. There are strict guidelines around the dispersion of emissions from chimneys and emissions abatement equipment, particularly in the City of London, which are adhered to be engine and generator manufactures alike.

Generators that aren’t fixed, transportable, and able to be moved for their applications, will soon be subject to the upcoming “Stage V” emissions limits on particulate matter, the most stringent set of emission standards for off-road machinery in the world. This technology involved will ultimately be diffused into standby power applications. This will make backup power even cleaner in operation, and it will certainly continue to be cleaner in its few hours of running each year during an outage than the energy output required to recover in its absence.

Generator telematics technology has kept up with other industries, with users able to monitor electrical load, fuel consumption and monitor performance remotely via apps, giving piece of mind and security.

As you’d expect with, for example, a car purchase, service intervals and maintenance packages mean backup power is there when required, engines are more reliable than ever, and there are even a wide range of financing options, with flexi-lease and 0% interest deals making generators available to support businesses from as little as £50 per week.

Ensuring continuity of business has never been easier.



L: www.linkedin.com/showcase/jcb-power-products

W: www.jcb.com/en-gb/products/generators


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