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Declining Power Resilience Risks Disrupting Your Supply Chains

The UK logistics sector has faced a period of unprecedented disruption, with the combined challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s departure from the European Union stretching supply chains to breaking point. With ongoing uncertainty continuing to present challenges for the logistics sector, the last thing your company needs is additional disruption and delays. Unfortunately, with the transition to renewable generation and net zero gathering pace, your operations are at risk of power disruption unless you actively ensure you are properly protected. 

The Growing Risk of Blackouts 

Blackouts and brownouts have historically been rare in the UK, but they do happen. While the total amount of time that an energy end user finds themselves without grid supply has steadily fallen over the past 10 years, the risk of individual outages has increased. National Grid has issued numerous warnings that the amount of reserve power available was dangerously low on multiple occasions over the last year. A report by the Climate Change Committee, issued in June 2021, highlighted additional risks of climate-related failure for the power grid. 

While individual power disruption events generally remain short, they still have the potential to cause severe disruption. This risk has grown as many processes in the logistics sector become increasingly automated, relying on complex control software and robotics to drive vital process improvement. A loss of power for just a few seconds could cause this sensitive equipment to fail, reset, or otherwise drop offline, costing business-critical time and productivity. 

Building Green Resilience 

Many logistics companies have already recognised the need to bolster their power resilience as the so-called ‘Industry 4.0’ revolution rolls out. More and more processes are becoming digitised, delivering better oversight and efficiency but with increasing vulnerability to power disruption. However, many of the commonly-used technologies used to provide power resilience don’t resonate with another key priority for many logistics providers: the need to achieve net zero. 

Many key customer segments for the logistics sector, particularly major retailers, have already made significant steps demonstrating a clear commitment to achieving net zero. This increasingly includes their ‘Scope 3’ emissions, meaning those that are generated by the organisation’s supply chain. Major brands including Tesco and Amazon have already clearly stated that a failure to address carbon emissions risks partners and suppliers being replaced. Whatever sector your business serves, your customers will be under some kind of pressure to improve sustainability, pressure that will inevitably extend into their supply chain. Failing to demonstrate a clear commitment to reducing emissions risks losing out on key contracts. 

Many emergency power technologies, such as generators or traditional Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, actively contribute to your net carbon emissions, potentially undermining efforts elsewhere to improve sustainability. Generators contribute directly to greenhouse gas emissions, while many UPS solutions increase your overall energy consumption, impacting on both sustainability performance and energy costs. 

An alternative is to implement a battery energy storage system (BESS), able to provide instantaneous, site-wide power resilience to ensure not only critical equipment but your entire infrastructure is protected from power disruption. When compared to traditional UPS systems, battery energy storage systems also use a fraction of the energy whilst standing by waiting for a power failure to occur. A lithium-ion battery can also be a powerful statement of intent in terms of communicating your commitment to improved sustainability.  

While traditional UPS has one function, BESS can also offer a range of additional functionality when deployed for various applications alongside power resilience, such as improved energy efficiency, maximising on-site green generation, or allowing low-emission technology such as EV charging to be implemented. This means that BESS can form the cornerstone of a comprehensive sustainability strategy alongside preventing disruption caused by issues with power reliability. 

To find out more about battery energy storage technology, and how it can provide power resilience for a net zero world, contact the Powerstar team here. 

 

12 August 2021

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