Dr Alex Mardapittas, inventor of the VIRTUE energy storage solution and Managing Director of Powerstar, emphasises how electricity supply issues have become an increasingly common problem within the UK electricity network. Recent power failures at multiple airports highlight the dangers of unprotected supplies in a world reliant on technology.

With modern advances in technology, increasing amounts of critical electrical equipment is relied upon in the everyday operations of companies both in the private and public sector. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to ensure both hardware and software is protected from electricity supply issues that can cause critical systems to fail.

Unfortunately, supply issues continue to become ever more common with the growing constraints of the ageing UK electricity network as it struggles to keep up with growing demand. As a result, many sites are experiencing problems such as brownouts, blackouts, voltage spikes and dips more frequently. This can inflict significant damage upon electrical equipment and sensitive business operations leading to escalating costs and security issues.

The scale and regularity of supply issues are increasing which is noticeably visible across the news within the energy industry and on a national level. This is highlighted through problems recently experienced by three large airports who, in separate incidents one month apart, suffered critical power issues causing functionality of major parts of the airports to cease, resulting in significant delays, cancellations and lost luggage for thousands of customers.

It was reported in the incident in Scotland that the airport’s back-up power systems also failed within the terminals, but not on the airfields, which fortunately kept the runway lit avoiding potential crises.[1]

Power failures of this degree not only cause frustration, but can lead to security issues and have distressing consequences to a business’ reputation and operational costs. A consumer-focused business such as an airport may be expected to compensate its customers in an attempt to repair the damage caused by the stressful experience; additionally, materials could be wasted if manufacturing or automated processes are interrupted, leading to potential further cost ramifications.

When protecting facilities, an effective, secure and reliable form of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) must be considered to ensure a constant electrical supply can be maintained during periods of supply issues from the network or total power failure. Some facilities use diesel generators or other traditional systems to provide UPS, but these are ageing technologies that can be unreliable and prone to longer response times.

A modern solution for providing UPS is battery-based energy storage technology, which stores energy provided by the National Grid at times of low demand, or directly from renewable sources, to be utilised when required. By monitoring and measuring the electricity supply to the load, this solution will instantaneously recognise, within a three-millisecond timeframe, when the grid supply fails and will seamlessly continue to provide power for a period of up to two hours.

VIRTUE, Powerstar’s innovative energy storage solution, can provide full UPS capabilities, alongside greater control and flexibility of a site’s electricity usage, offering potential to access grid incentives. It delivers a complete, bespoke, ‘future proof’ engineered solution by allowing easy scaling to manage increases to growing demand.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-40429297

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Tracy Eaton

Tracy Eaton