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As the rate of technological advancement and dependency within businesses grows, statistics show that a lack of energy resilience can be costly, with Centrica’s Resilience Report finding that UK businesses without an energy resilience strategy are risking 17 per cent of their revenue. This equates to potentially £2.8m each year in damages and lost opportunities for a typical medium-sized UK business[1]. This has led to an increasing amount of organisations seeking to improve their energy resilience to protect themselves from the financial, reputational and operational implications of energy-related failures.

2nd generation UPS increases energy resilience

In addition to the increasing costs of a lack of energy resilience, the likelihood of an energy-related failure is increasing as renewable energy takes up a greater share of the mix. This is highlighted by the total estimated unsupplied energy, the deficit between the energy required and energy that was delivered, on the Great Britain network increasing from 20.02 MWh in 2015-2016 to 105.01MWh in 2016-2017 [2].

This highlights the need for Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) as the increasing share of the energy mix accounted for by renewable energy, which is variable by its very nature, can lead to a more variable and therefore less reliable electricity supply, heightening the need to be protected against unexpected losses of power. Additionally, the growth of technology, underpinned by Industry 4.0 has led to organisations becoming more dependent on electricity at a time where the reliability of the supply is decreasing. This enhances the importance of UPS as it supports the load quickly to ensure there is minimal downtime.

The role of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) in enhancing energy resilience

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is not a new concept, in fact, it’s been used in industries such as data centres for many years. However, now a new generation of UPS’s are available in the market that goes beyond the traditional, system specific benefits that UPS is known for. As we transition into the UK’s low carbon future, leading providers are integrating into technology such as energy storage solutions to maximise benefits at a site-wide scale.

Energy storage solutions are typically utilised to store energy and provide benefits such as reduced distribution use of system (DUoS) costs, reduced transmission costs (Triads) and create potential new revenue streams through participation in grid balancing schemes such as demand response and energy arbitrage. It is this functionality that the technology is known for and the aforementioned benefits are all factors in the growing popularity of energy storage solutions which has seen huge growth and within the past year the number of new battery energy storage projects has risen by more than 240% in the UK [3]. However, due to the previously discussed startling figures about dwindling security of supply, there is a growing requirement for solutions that not only provide tangible energy consumption and cost savings but can also provide energy resilience.

Seamless sets the standard

As the main requirement of UPS is to protect a site in the event of an energy-related failure which can interrupt all business operations, it is vital that UPS’s respond as quickly as possible in order to fulfil its primary function.UPS – Powerstar VIRTUE

Seamless response, which is achievable from some leading-edge solutions such as Powerstar VIRTUE and further aided integrated voltage regulation which negates downtime, ensure that there is no perceivable interruption to the site’s energy supply and therefore an energy-related failure would be avoided and pass by unnoticed to a site which has seamless UPS until the energy profile is later analysed or an automated alert was to be set. Due to its advanced software, a Powerstar VIRTUE solution with seamless UPS capabilities can provide support to the load within 9 milliseconds; this highlights how an energy storage solution with full seamless UPS capabilities can provide a robust way of improving energy resilience whilst negating the need for backup generation.

In addition to the seamless responsiveness of Powerstar VIRTUE’s UPS capabilities, it is also differentiated against the standard UPS systems as it is an online in-line solution. This means that in contrast to standard systems which are standby and require an inverter to be engaged upon an event being detected, Powerstar VIRTUE constantly runs through the inverter which allows it to ramp up seamlessly in the event of a grid failure. It is also a more environmentally friendly solution as the software built into the online in-line system monitors the grid as opposed to its hardware, resulting in it only utilising only around 20 watts. This is in stark contrast to other UPS standby systems in the market which utilise approximately 10% of the system’s capacity at all times to monitor the grid in preparation for an event.

It is also the case that site wide UPS systems, such as that found within a Powerstar VIRTUE solution, are more effective at improving energy resilience than traditional UPS systems which are system specific. This is because the UPS is not tied to a specific system, such as IT systems, and therefore provides site-wide protection in the event of an energy-related failure, ensuring all critical systems connected to the load stay online, allowing the business to operate as normal.

More than an added benefit, the business case for UPS can be monetised, as evidenced through customer data analysis which highlighted that in the first 10 months of a Powerstar VIRTUE system with full UPS capabilities being installed, the customer’s business was protected against 7 losses of power which would have equated to a total cost of £630,000. This was due to each blackout carrying an actual cost of £90,000 to the business due to a high number of automated processes in the business which had previously experienced significant disruption during a loss of power.

In conclusion, it is clear that as Industry 4.0 and the wider energy transition continues, ever-increasing numbers of companies will recognise the opportunities and importance of an energy resilience strategy. Energy storage solutions with full UPS capabilities are a simple way of improving resilience by investing in one complete solution. Providers of bespoke solutions, such as Powerstar VIRTUE, can offer protection to the operations of your site, your reputation and ultimately, your revenue.

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[1] Centrica Business Solutions – The Resilience Report

[2] National Grid – National Electricity Transmission System Performance Report 2016-2017

[3] Solar media market research

27 July 2018


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